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U.S. farmers could receive cash from Trump aid plan by September: Perdue

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue reacts at an interview with Reuters during the G20 Meeting of Agriculture Ministers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Martin Acosta
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue reacts at an interview with Reuters during the G20 Meeting of Agriculture Ministers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Martin Acosta

BUENOS AIRES — U.S. farmers could receive cash payments from a planned $12 billion aid package as soon as late September, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told Reuters on Saturday, warning that the program will not make farmers whole.

Perdue said in an interview on the sidelines of the G20 meeting of agriculture ministers in Buenos Aires that the plan would include between $7 billion and $8 billion in direct cash relief.

U.S. growers are expected to take an estimated $11 billion hit due to retaliatory tariffs after Washington placed duties on Chinese goods.

“Obviously this is not going to make farmers whole,” Perdue said.

The program includes cash for farmers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hogs. It is also to include government purchases of fruits, nuts, rice, legumes, beef, pork and milk for distribution to food banks and nutrition programs. And it promises a trade promotion program to develop new markets.

Only about $200 million will go toward the expansion of trade missions, Perdue said.

The aid plan, a response to retaliatory trade measures on U.S. farm exports, is intended only for the 2018 crop cycle, he said.

President Donald Trump announced the program on Tuesday to mixed reactions from U.S. Midwest growers and legislators who said they object to the administration’s tariffs. Trump, however, has made it clear that tariffs are his tool of choice in dealing with trade fights.

China and other top U.S. trade partners imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans, dairy, meat, produce and liquor after Washington slapped duties on Chinese goods.

Perdue called the aid program a temporary measure.

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“It’s for the 2018 crop. We do not expect to do this over a period of time,” Perdue said, referring to the aid plan.

(Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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