WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has unveiled a new US$16 billion (S$22 billion) aid package to help farmers caught in the crossfire of his trade war with China.
"The farmers have been attacked by China," Mr Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday. "We are going to help out our farmers and we are giving them that level playing field that is so important."
Mr Trump again claimed that China is paying the 25 per cent tariffs he has imposed on US$200 billion worth of imports, which economists agree are paid by businesses and consumers.
"Some of that money will go to the farmers to help them out during a period where trade has been very unfair to them," Mr Trump said.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the bulk of the funds will go to direct payments to crop and livestock producers, while a small portion will be used to purchase food to use in US aid programmes such as food banks and school lunch programmes.
Mr Trump's aggressive tariff strategy, especially against China, drew stiff retaliation from Beijing and others designed to hit the US where it hurts: farm country.
Soya beans and pork have been primary targets, but many other crops have suffered directly or indirectly. Soya bean exports to China fell 75 per cent last year, according to US Commerce Department figures.
The Trump administration ramped up the aid from the US$12 billion provided last year, but officials said they increased and redesigned the programme this year to make it easier to understand.
The US Department of Agriculture will calculate damage done by the retaliation, and officials said the first of three payments is expected to go out in July or August.