President Trump says his tariffs are “the greatest” — but they're apparently not that great for farmers, who now have to get billions in aid to offset the effects.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday that the Trump administration is rolling out a $12 billion aid package for farmers, aid that’s meant to help the farmers caught in Trump’s trade war. Trump’s tariffs have resulted in retaliatory tariffs from China and other countries on American products, including pork and soybeans, and farmers have complained that Trump’s tariffs could cost their industry billions. And rather than pulling back on his trade war, Trump’s putting together this huge aid package, targeting dairy, soy, and pork farmers.
The aid package is a sign that Trump’s in this war for the long haul. It started with a round of tariffs on steel and aluminum in March, and has escalated since then. Some 10,000 products that are traded around the world are now affected by the trade war.
The president cheered the tariffs in a Tuesday-morning tweet, before he headed to the heart of Midwestern farm country to give a speech.
The announcement from the Department of Agriculture came just after Trump's speech in Kansas City, where he praised his own tariffs during the speech — and claimed that farmers would benefit from them —even as his administration was preparing to deal with their effects with a large and costly aid package.
“They don’t want to have those tariffs put on them,” Trump said of the countries targeted in his trade war. “And the farmers will be the biggest beneficiaries.”
Perdue signaled that farmers were hurting because of the tariffs last month. “Farmers are resilient; they understand that China has not been playing fair,” he said on CNBC last month. “They’re patriots, but they also know that patriotism can’t pay the bills, and that’s where they’re concerned.”
Announcing the aid programs, Perdue said the $12 billion in aid was designed to offset $11 billion in farmers’ losses, during a call with reporters on Tuesday.
“The programs we are announcing today are a firm statement that other nations cannot bully our agricultural producers,” he said, according to the New York Times. “This administration will not stand by while our hardworking agricultural producers bear the brunt of unfriendly and illegal tariffs.”
Not all Republicans are pleased with the aid package. "This is becoming more and more like a Soviet-type of economy here,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, a Missouri Republican.
The aid package to the farmers hurt by the tariffs is coming a few months before the 2018 midterm elections, bad news for Republicans growing concerned that the tariffs would hurt them politically and economically. And earlier this week, Iowa corn farmers met with Congress to alert lawmakers the tariffs are hurting their industry.
And Trump didn't miss a chance to take a dig at the media: “Just remember what you’re seeing and what you're reading is not what’s happening,” he also told his audience on Tuesday.