When the Trump administration announced last year that it was giving farmers hurt by the President’s multi-front trade war a $12 billion “bale out,” the government insisted it would be a one-time event.
But now, as retaliatory tariffs in response to President Trump’s trade war — which he previously insisted was “good, and easy to win” — drag on, the administration is preparing another payment program. The move appears aimed at Trump’s political base, as he tweeted earlier this month about “our great Patriot Farmers” eventually benefitting from his trade policies.
….This money will come from the massive Tariffs being paid to the United States for allowing China, and others, to do business with us. The Farmers have been “forgotten” for many years. Their time is now!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2019
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the news in an interview Thursday morning with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.
“We’re having another market facilitation program in 2019, once these [trade] talks [with China] broke down,” he said.
“China’s going to pay for this $16 billion through tariffs coming in,” Perdue asserted, before confirming that the money would really be coming from his department’s Commodity Credit Corporation program.
As CNN noted, studies have shown that Perdue’s claim about tariffs on China paying for the program is not true. Last year, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) called the program “an additional payment that’s going to be made by the taxpayers.”
In 2018, Perdue called the $12 billion a “short-term solution to allow President Trump time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the entire U.S. economy.” Others in the administration called it a “one-time” response to what the USDA called “unjustified retaliation.”
Not all of the money will go to farmers. Some will be used to market U.S. goods abroad.
“Some of this $16 billion is going to be used for market access programs, to go and build markets elsewhere,” Perdue said Thursday. “And if China decides not to play, then we’ll sell these great products elsewhere.”
According to a Congressional Research Service report, around $200 million of the $12 billion authorized in 2018 was used to promote U.S. goods overseas, nearly doubling the existing budget for trade promotion programs. The USDA has not yet released details on this year’s payment program, and did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.