White House explores new farmer bailout plan as U.S.-China trade war heats up



Damian Paletta and Erica Werner | Washington Post

White House officials are scrambling to come up with a new bailout plan to placate furious farmers after President Trump’s initial idea of donating unused crops to poor countries came under scrutiny, people briefed on the planning said.

Amid intense political pressure from Senate Republicans, White House officials are eyeing different ways to advance funds to agriculture companies that have complained they are being caught in the middle of the escalating trade battle with China.

On Monday, former vice president Joe Biden latched onto this sentiment, telling the radio station WMUR that “The American worker is getting killed by this. The American farmers are getting killed.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said he planned to write a letter to Trump to explain the concerns of farmers because he felt the argument he had repeatedly made to the president in person was not registering.

“I’m not sure if you talk to him face to face he hears everything you say,” said Grassley, who has emerged as one of Trump’s chief critics on the administration’s trade approach in recent weeks.

Pressed for details of the plan on Monday, Trump told reporters, “It’s being devised right now.”

On Tuesday, Trump wrote on Twitter that “our great Patriot Farmers will be one of the biggest beneficiaries” of his trade policies. He said that would come either from China buying more U.S. products or U.S. government making up the difference.

One idea under consideration would be an expansion of bailout funds from the Commodity Credit Corp., a division of the Agriculture Department.

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