President Donald Trump on Thursday authorized a $16 billion bailout package for American farmers amid an ongoing trade war with China.
“Our farmers will be greatly helped,” the president, flanked by a dozen people who work in the agriculture industry, said. “The $16 billion in funds will help keep our cherished farms thriving and make clear that no country has veto on America’s economic and national security, can’t let that happen ever.”
The announcement comes amid Trump’s ongoing feud with Beijing that has seen both governments impose new tariffs on each other with increasing severity. Trump has accused China of taking advantage of the United States and has been working for months to secure a more advantageous trade arrangement. But those efforts have largely failed, and the White House imposed increased tariffs on an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods earlier this month after trade negotiations stagnated.
The ongoing trade war has frustrated many American farmers, who have wondered who will buy their crops after Chinese buyers disappeared. But Trump once again championed his efforts to renegotiate Thursday and said he would support the agriculture industry throughout the standoff.
“We’re taking swift action to remedy all of the injustice that’s been done over the years,” Trump said Thursday. “You could say with our farmers, they’re patriots, they stood up. We will ensure that our farmers get the relief that they need, and very, very quickly.”
He added: “It’s a good time to be a farmer.”
Trump said Thursday that the $16 billion would “all come from China” through tariffs paid on Chinese goods. But China doesn’t, in fact, pay for the tariffs imposed by the United States. Importers have to pay them and the additional costs are often passed on to consumers who buy the goods in America.
Agriculture Secretary Sunny Perdue told reporters Thursday that the White House would ensure farmers wouldn’t “bear the brunt” of the dispute, and said the Trump administration remained hopeful of signing a “fair” deal.”
“I can’t recall a president more concerned about farmer well-being,” Perdue said, according to The Washington Post. “We are working hard to assess trade damages and this package ensures farmers will not bear the brunt.”
Thursday’s aid announcement is the second for American farmers over the past year. Last July, the White House said it would provide $12 billion in emergency funding to help those caught in the middle of the trade war.
Both the White House and Beijing have signaled their willingness to have a protracted trade battle if necessary.