WASHINGTON.- The Trump administration announced Tuesday it will provide $12 billion in emergency relief to ease the pain of American farmers slammed by President Donald Trump’s escalating trade disputes with China and other countries.
However, some farm-state Republicans quickly dismissed the plan, declaring that farmers want markets for their crops, not payoffs for lost sales and lower prices.
The Agriculture Department said it would tap an existing program to provide billions in direct payments to farmers and ranchers hurt by foreign retaliation to Trump’s tariffs.
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With congressional elections coming soon, the government action underscored administration concern about damage to U.S. farmers from Trump’s trade tariffs and the potential for losing House and Senate seats in the Midwest and elsewhere.
The administration said the program was just temporary.
“This is a short-term solution that will give President Trump and his administration the time to work on long-term trade deals,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue as administration officials argued that the plan was not a “bailout” of the nation’s farmers.
But that provided little solace to rank-and-file Republicans, who said the tariffs are simply taxes and warned the action would open a Pandora’s box for other sectors of the economy.