The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will purchase approximately $1.2 billion worth of surplus food from farmers affected by trade tariffs, as the Trump administration continues its trade feuds with nations such as China and Mexico.
Last month, the USDA announced a $12 billion aid package to farmers who have an “unexpected surplus” of produce due to disrupted markets caused by trade tariffs, and this payment will mark the first stage of this programme.
The Food Purchase and Distribution Program will provide payments to farmers who have an excess of commodities such as fruit, pork and milk from 4 September 2018.
Payments to the pork industry alone will account for around $558 million, as the industry has been gravely affected by tariffs imposed by China.
Earlier this year, the US National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) called for an end to the US-China trade dispute, claiming that China’s 25% import tariff on US pork could cost the industry $2.2 billion every year.
The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will distribute the surplus commodities through nutrition assistance programs such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), as well as several child nutrition programmes.
US secretary of agriculture Sonny Perdue said: “Early on, the President instructed me, as Secretary of Agriculture, to make sure our farmers did not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs. After careful analysis by our team at USDA, we have formulated our strategy to mitigate the trade damages sustained by our farmers.
“Our farmers work hard, and are the most productive in the world, and we aim to protect them.
“President Trump has been standing up to China and other nations, sending the clear message that the United States will no longer tolerate their unfair trade practices, which include non-tariff trade barriers and the theft of intellectual property.
“In short, the President has taken action to benefit all sectors of the American economy – including agriculture – in the long run.
“It’s important to note all of this could go away tomorrow, if China and the other nations simply correct their behaviour. But in the meantime, the programs we are announcing today buys time for the President to strike long-lasting trade deals to benefit our entire economy.”
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