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US government to pay $4.7 billion in tariff-related aid to farmers

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CHICAGO: The US Department of Agriculture said on Monday its farm aid package would include $4.7 billion in direct payments to farmers to help offset losses from retaliatory tariffs on American exports this season.


The bulk of the payments, $3.6 billion, would be made to soybean farmers. That amounts to $1.65 per bushel multiplied by 50 per cent of expected production, Under-Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey said on a conference call.


China has traditionally bought about 60 per cent of US soybean exports. But it has been largely out of the market since implementing tariffs on US imports in retaliation for the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese goods.


“An announcement about further payments will be made in the coming months if warranted,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said.


The aid package, announced at $12 billion in July, will also include payments for sorghum of 86 cents per bushel multiplied by 50 per cent of production, 1 cent per bushel of corn, 14 cents per bushel of wheat, and 6 cents per pound of cotton.


Payments for hog farmers will be $8 per pig multiplied by 50 per cent of August 1 production, while dairy farmers will receive 12 cents per hundred weight of production, Northey said.


Sign-up for the programme will begin on September 4, to coincide with the 2018 harvest, and end in January. Farmers will need to present production evidence to collect payments and payments are capped at $125,000 per person.


The programme will also include $1.2 billion in purchases of commodities, including pork and dairy products, to be spread out over several months, Under-Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach said.


“The specific commodities to be purchased are those that have been impacted by the unfair tariffs that have been imposed by other nations,” he said.


The programme will also include some $200 million for a trade promotion programme to develop new markets.


The package has been seen as a temporary boost to farmers as the United States and China negotiate trade issues. It has divided Republicans, some of whom favour free trade and were troubled by what they viewed as the kind of welfare programmes their party has traditionally opposed. It has also faced scepticism from some farmers, a key Trump constituency.


— Reuters


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