Missouri farm group welcomes Trump approval of more aid payments

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday that President Donald Trump has authorized a second round of trade mitigation payments from a multibillion-dollar aid package that aims to assist farmers hurt by Chinese counter-tariffs on agricultural products.

The Missouri Farm Bureau welcomed the confirmation of additional relief for farmers in a state where trade tensions have touched most of the agricultural economy, said Spencer Tuma, the farm advocacy group’s director of national legislative affairs.

“(China) imposed tariffs on just about every agricultural product,” Tuma said. “In Missouri virtually no producer was spared from the tariffs.”

The USDA originally announced the aid package in July after China imposed a 25 percent tariff on American soybeans, and in August it detailed a first round of direct payments. All told, the USDA expects direct payments to total about $9.6 billion, with nearly $7.3 billion designated for soybean farmers.

The department said it will also spend $1.2 billion to purchase and distribute food “unfairly targeted by unjustified retaliation.” It will spend another $200 million to help develop foreign markets for American agricultural products.

“(Federal aid payments) are designed to show some temporary relief,” Tuma said. “Ultimately what that does is keep our farmers in business so our food supply can stay stable and also affordable for the consumer.”

Missouri farmers also weathered a drought this year, contributing to the lowest net farm income in five years, according to the Missouri Farm Bureau.

Tuma acknowledged lingering trade issues to address but said Trump’s approval of aid payments is a step in the right direction.

“It’s been a tough year in Missouri agriculture,” Tuma said, “but we’re grateful that the administration has delivered on its promise to help farmers and ranchers in the short term while we work out these trade deals.”

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