Trump teases more trade bailout money for farmers



Ryan McCrimmon | POLITICO

President Donald Trump suggested on Twitter that he would give more bailout payments to farmers this year as they wait for trade deals to boost agricultural exports.

“If our formally targeted farmers need additional aid until such time as the trade deals with China, Mexico, Canada and others fully kick in, that aid will be provided by the federal government,” Trump tweeted in all-caps. He also added, erroneously, that the money for the aid would come from tariffs his administration has slapped on billions of dollars of imported goods. Economists have shown that U.S. businesses and consumers are paying those duties, rather than China.

Trump’s dangling of extra bailout money stands in contrast to his recent boasts that farmers should start buying more land and “bigger tractors” to keep up with the historic boom that he promised his new trade agreements would deliver.

Additional aid could also draw some criticism from Democrats in Congress who have questioned the fairness of how the funding is distributed geographically and among commodity sectors.

The Agriculture Department has already paid farmers more than $23 billion to offset their financial losses under Trump’s trade war since 2018, on top of other tariff relief measures like commodity purchases and marketing assistance.

Secretary Sonny Perdue has repeatedly said farmers should not expect another round of aid for 2020, now that the U.S. and China have reached a deal to boost American farm exports.

“I would not anticipate it,” Perdue said Thursday at USDA’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va. Farmers have “got to farm for the market and what it’s telling them and what their capabilities are from a production perspective.”

Trump’s latest comments caught the department off-guard.

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