US lawmakers, farmers slam US$12b relief plan

US lawmakers and farmers were critical of the aid plan announced by the Trump administration on Tuesday.

US lawmakers and farmers were critical of the aid plan announced by the Trump administration on Tuesday.

The administration said it will provide US$12 billion in emergency relief to ease the pain of American farmers affected by Trump’s escalating trade disputes with China and other countries. 

Some farm-state Republicans quickly dismissed the plan, declaring that farmers want markets for their crops, not payoffs for lost sales and lower prices.

According to the Trump administration, the proposal aims to help farmers impacted by the ongoing trade disputes between Washington and others.

The aid plan was unveiled by the US Department of Agriculture, and includes both direct payment and other temporary measures for farmers. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue called it “a short-term solution” to allow the United States time to negotiate with other economies on “long-term trade deals.”

Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska described it as spending billions on “gold crutches” as the US-initiated trade disputes are “cutting the legs out from under farmers.”

“America’s farmers don’t want to be paid to lose — they want to win by feeding the world,” Sasse said. “This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again (the beginning of the Great Depression).”

“Tariffs are taxes that punish American consumers and producers,” tweeted Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. “If tariffs punish farmers, the answer is not welfare for farmers — the answer is remove the tariffs.”

US House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters that lawmakers are trying to persuade President Donald Trump out of levying tariffs on imports, saying it is “not the way to go.”

For the agriculture-heavy state of Iowa, the proposed aid is viewed as only a short-term fix instead of a long-term solution. Governor of Iowa Kim Reynolds, who has repeatedly said “nobody wins in a trade war,” urged continued efforts to expand and open markets.

Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, said that “farmers need contracts, not compensation, so they can create stability and plan for the future,” adding that the administration’s proposed action “would only be a short-term attempt at masking the long-term damage caused by tariffs.”

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