US farmers could receive cash from Trump aid plan by September: Perdue

US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue looks on during an interview with Reuters. PHOTO: REUTERS

BUENOS AIRES (REUTERS) - US farmers could receive cash payments from a planned US$12 billion (S$16.3 billion) aid package as soon as late September, US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told Reuters on Saturday (July 28), warning that the programme will not make farmers whole.

Perdue said in an interview on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G-20) meeting of agriculture ministers in Buenos Aires that the plan would include between US$7 billion and US$8 billion in direct cash relief.

US growers are expected to take an estimated US$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 programme 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 programmes. And it promises a trade promotion programme to develop new markets.

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

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

President Donald Trump announced the programme on Tuesday to mixed reactions from US 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 US trade partners imposed retaliatory tariffs on US soybeans, dairy, meat, produce and liquor after Washington slapped duties on Chinese goods.

Perdue called the aid programme a temporary measure.

"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.

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