U.S. farmers receive $7.7 billion in gov’t aid

The financial help was put in place to help producers hurt by retaliatory tariffs imposed by China in recent trade war

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Reuters) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has paid out US$7.7 billion so far to help farmers who were hurt by retaliatory tariffs imposed by China.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged up to $12 billion in aid to help offset losses for crops hit by the Chinese tariffs imposed in response to Washington’s tariffs on Chinese goods.

Speaking at the USDA annual forum, William Northey, undersecretary for farm production and conservation, said “$7.7 billion has gone into farmers’ bank accounts now.”

China targeted U.S. farmers with the tariffs after Trump imposed duties on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods last year as part of his vow to cut the U.S. trade deficit with China.

Beijing slapped a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans in retaliation, effectively shutting down U.S. soybean exports to China, worth about $12 billion last year.

With China typically taking about 60 percent of U.S. supplies, the loss of that export market left farmers struggling with a big inventory.

USDA has repeatedly said it will not have an aid package for 2019. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said Feb. 21 that farmers will do their planning for the year based on the market conditions.

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