WASHINGTON, May 10 (Reuters) – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Friday President Donald Trump had asked him to create a plan to support American farmers amid a trade dispute with China that has hit the U.S. agricultural sector hard.
“While China may backtrack, @POTUS is steadfast in his support for U.S. farmers and directed @USDA to work on a plan quickly,” Perdue wrote in a post on Twitter.
Asked about the tweet, a USDA spokeswoman said the department had nothing further.
Farmers have largely supported Trump but have been among the worst hit by the continuing trade dispute with China. Farm debt has spiked to its highest level in decades and credit conditions in the rural economy have worsened.
Since last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rolled out up to $12 billion to help offset farmers’ agricultural losses due to tensions with China. Perdue said last month the Trump administration did not have plans to provide farmers with more aid.
The United States has placed 25% tariffs on about $250 billion worth of Chinese imports and is readying plans to place duties on an additional $325 billion worth of Chinese products.
In Japan for ag discussions with our 4th largest ag customer. Just spoke with @POTUS — while China may backtrack, @POTUS is steadfast in his support for U.S. farmers and directed @USDA to work on a plan quickly. @POTUS loves his farmers and will not let them down! https://t.co/B0le1WSwde
— Sec. Sonny Perdue (@SecretarySonny) May 10, 2019
China has retaliated by imposing its own tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, including soybeans, grain sorghum and pork, and has threatened to take additional measures.
Negotiators from Washington and Beijing are meeting on Friday for the latest round of trade talks but Trump said on Friday morning there was “no rush” to reach a deal.