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Second Round of Trade Aid?

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue confirmed this week that the White House has asked United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to put together a second aid package for farmers to make up for losses from Chinese imposed retaliatory tariffs. In an early morning tweet May 10, Perdue, who is in Japan for ag discussions, noted the President asked him to work on a plan quickly.

USDA rolled out the first trade aid package worth roughly $12 billion in cash payments, commodity purchases, and new marketing funds in August of 2018. Up until last week, Perdue had insisted there were no plans for a follow up assistance package.

However, negotiations with China appeared to fall apart this week when Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced they were more than doubling the tariff rate on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, escalating the trade war even as a Chinese delegation arrived for a new round of talks.

That tariff rate hike — from 10 percent to 25 percent — went into effect Friday as U.S. and Chinese negotiators met for the second day of talks in Washington.

Trump has also confirmed that that U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has begun the process to hit an additional $325 billion worth of Chinese goods with a 25 percent tariff. That would go on top of $250 billion worth of imports already being taxed.

China is threatening to retaliate, but the country is already hitting just about every ag commodity it buys from the U.S. with steep import taxes. Soybeans, sorghum, oranges, dairy, pork, and almonds are just a few of U.S. ag exports that are being impacted.

China still wants a deal to end the trade war, according to White House officials, but the President has said he is in no hurry.

Perdue’s comments come a day after Vice President Mike Pence assured farmers in Minnesota that the administration is “going to look for ways to provide additional support to American farmers that would be impacted by the negotiations or uncertainty in our relationship with China.”

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