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Report: Trump administration readying $15B aid for farmers hurt by trade battles


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Report: Trump administration readying $15B aid for farmers hurt by trade battles

The Trump administration is reportedly set to offer U.S. farmers aid that could top $15 billion as agriculture remains in the crosshairs of the intensifying trade war with China.

The White House could announce the aid package as soon as May 23, according to a May 21 Bloomberg report. China said it would raise tariffs to up to 25% on $60 billion of U.S. exports, including soybeans, beef, peanut oil, sugar, cocoa beans and wheat, beginning June 1.

The cash aid could come in the form of $2 per bushel to soybean growers, 63 cents per bushel to wheat growers and 4 cents per bushel to corn growers, Bloomberg reported, citing two sources who said the payments could be based on the acreage farmers plant in 2019 and the historical yield of crops per acre.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a statement that details on the aid will be "forthcoming shortly," and it said that farmers should not form expectations "based on inaccurate media stories."

"But we want to be clear that the program is being designed to avoid skewing planting decisions one way or another," the department said.

U.S. agriculture has been a casualty of the Trump administration's various trade spats, frequently targeted by retaliatory tariffs from China, Canada, Mexico and the European Union in response to U.S. tariffs on their goods.

According to Panjiva Inc., a division of S&P Global Inc. covering trade, U.S. soybean exports to China dropped 62.3% year over year in the three months ended Feb. 28, while wheat farmers and fruit growers have also cited steep losses in shipments, leading to plummeting prices and oversupply.

President Donald Trump said May 13 that his administration would pledge $15 billion in aid to farmers, which would come on top of the $12 billion in aid pledged in 2018 to counter the economic effects of China's retaliatory tariffs that largely targeted a core contingency of Trump's voting base. Some farm groups have called for the removal of tariffs on both sides, warning that the aid is a temporary fix rather than a permanent solution.