Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Wednesday night that he is putting together a second round of financial assistance for farmers and ranchers hit by President Trump's trade war with China. Perdue said the farm bailout will total between $15 billion and $20 billion, and include more direct payments and commodity purchases, but "many farmers doubt the scale of that aid package is anywhere near sufficient to make up for a trade spat that has shut them out of a lucrative Chinese market of 1.4 billion consumers," The Wall Street Journal reports.
"Though we are glad that the administration is considering additional assistance," Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, tells the Journal, "such temporary solutions are not sufficient to address the permanent damage the trade war has inflicted on agricultural export markets." China has retaliated against Trump's tariffs by raising tariffs on soybeans, sorghum, pork, and other U.S. agricultural products, plus slowed down purchases by state-owned companies. U.S. farm exports have plummeted and prices are at 10-year lows.
Last year, Congress approved $12 billion in trade war farm aid. So far, only $8.5 billion of that has been paid directly to farmers — and, the New York Daily News reported Thursday, $62 million of the bailout went to a Brazilian pork processing company that doesn't appear to be struggling under the trade war and is owned by two Brazilian brothers who can't leave Brazil because they are being investigated for corruption.
Agricultural areas that voted for Trump are losing patience, as The Late Show touched on Thursday night.
But the anger, despair, and financial hardship are real. "We cannot withstand another year in which our most important foreign market continues to slip away," John Heisdorffer, an Iowa soybean farmer and chairman of the American Soybean Association, tells the Journal. "Our patience is waning, our finances are suffering, and the stress from months of living with the consequences of these tariffs is mounting."