WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Trump administration plans to extend billions of dollars in aid to farmers negatively affected by tariffs resulting from President Donald Trump’s widening trade feud with other countries.
The U-S Agriculture Department announced Tuesday a $12 billion in aid, the money will go toward buying excess crops and identifying new exports markets as well as direct payments to farmers.
US agriculture exports have been a prime target of China and other countries that have retaliated against the series of tariffs Trump has imposed in recent months.
After Trump announced plans to impose $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports, Beijing retaliated with plans to impose tariffs on a range of agricultural products from the US including soybeans, grains, meats and dairy products.
Canada, Mexico, and the European Union also struck back at Trump’s leveling of US steel and aluminum tariffs by hitting US exports of agriculture products and other heavily exported US goods.
While the aid is being made to the nation’s farmers, it will not available to the commercial fishing industry or the lobster fisherman in the Florida Keys.
CBS4’s Jim DeFede took a look at the industry which relies on selling to foreign markets to survive.
Read more here: China Trade War Hits Keys Lobster Fishermen
Read more here: Facing South Florida: The Business Of Lobster
The administration has so far downplayed the impact of Trump’s ratcheting up of trade tensions on US producers by emphasizing the long-term benefits of his efforts to even out US trade relationships. The rollout of billions of dollars in aid will be the first action Trump has taken to protect farmers from the whiplash they have had to face in recent months.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, for one, has called the impact on farmers a “temporary situation,” but had signaled that the administration would consider efforts to mitigate farmers’ financial losses.
While Republicans in Congress refrained from directly criticizing Trump, GOP leaders and rank-and-file members advocated against tariffs and trade feuds that result from them.
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who recently defended Trump amid GOP criticism of his handling of Russia, also criticized Trump’s plan.
“Tariffs are taxes that punish American consumers and producers. If tariffs punish farmers, the answer is not welfare for farmers — the answer is to remove the tariffs,” Paul tweeted.
House Speaker Paul Ryan Ryan offered Tuesday that he doesn’t think “tariffs are the right answer.”
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, likened Trump’s multibillion-dollar aid plan to “gold crutches” meant to support farmers being hurt by Trump’s trade actions.
“This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and White House’s ‘plan’ is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches,” Sasse said in a statement. “America’s farmers don’t want to be paid to lose — they want to win by feeding the world. This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.”
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