Unveiled two days before the president is scheduled to visit Iowa, a politically important state that is the nation’s top soybean producer, the farm aid appeared calculated to show that Trump cares about farmers and is working to protect them from the worst consequences of his trade war.
But the relief money, announced by the Department of Agriculture, was also an indication that Trump — ignoring the concerns of farmers, their representatives in Congress and even some of his own aides — plans to extend his tit-for-tat tariff wars.
“The actions today are a firm statement that other nations cannot bully our agricultural producers to force the United States to cave in,” Sonny Perdue, the secretary of agriculture, said during a call with reporters to unveil the program.
The move drew swift condemnation from many farm groups and lawmakers, including several in his own party, who worry about a cascade of unintended consequences that may be just beginning. One farm-group study estimates that corn, wheat and soybean farmers in the United States have already lost more — $13bn — than the administration is proposing to provide as a result of the trade war. The prospect of retaliation has upended global markets for soybeans, meat and other American farm exports, and farmers are warning that tariffs are costing them valuable foreign contracts that took years to win.
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