Starting next week, farmers who have taken a financial hit because of trade disputes between the US and other countries can apply for government assistance. The White House will dole out $4.7 billion in direct aid to help make up for their reduced profits, reports Bloomberg. Most of that, $3.6 billion, is designated for soybean farmers, who have been especially hard hit by penalties imposed by China. As the Wall Street Journal notes, other farming groups aren't thrilled with their totals. The National Corn Growers Association, for instance, says the $96 million earmarked for corn growers won't come close to making up for their financial losses this year, which the group estimates to be around $6 billion. Producers of pork, cotton, sorghum, dairy, and wheat also are in line for money. Farmers can start applying Sept. 4, roughly the start of harvest season.
"Today’s aid announcement gives us some breathing room, but it will keep many of us going only a few months more," says Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. "The real solution to this trade war is to take a tough stance at the negotiating table and quickly find a resolution with our trading partners." In addition to the $4.7 billion, the USDA will spend $1.2 billion to buy commodities such as pork, apples, and nuts to help keep prices stable, reports USA Today. If the trade disputes aren't resolved by December, the USDA says a second round of direct payments will be considered. The Trump administration "will not stand by while farmers are targeted by countries who are acting in bad faith," Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters. Click for background on the trade disputes. (Read more farmers stories.)