WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has announced a $12 billion “short-term” plan to help U.S. farmers caught in the crossfire of President Donald Trump‘s trade disputes with China and other U.S. trading partners.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the plan will help a broad number of farmers deal with the cost of “disruptive markets” as U.S. trading partners have retaliated for President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported goods.
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Agriculture officials say the plan will not require congressional approval. It involves direct payments to farmers, the purchase of excess food and trade promotion programs to help create new export markets.
Trump said separately during a speech in Kansas City that “farmers will be the biggest beneficiary” of his trade agenda as he seeks better trade agreements.
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Trump declared earlier Tuesday that “Tariffs are the greatest!” and threatened to impose additional penalties on U.S. trading partners as he prepared for negotiations with European officials at the White House.
The Trump administration has slapped tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods in a dispute over Beijing’s high-tech industrial policies. China has retaliated with duties on soybeans and pork, affecting Midwest farmers in a region of the country that supported the president in his 2016 campaign.
Trump has threatened to place tariffs on up to $500 billion in products imported from China, a move that would dramatically ratchet up the stakes in the trade dispute involving the globe’s biggest economies.
Before departing for Kansas City, Trump tweeted that U.S. trade partners need to either negotiate a “fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It’s as simple as that.”
The president has engaged in hard-line trading negotiations with China, Canada and European nations, seeking to renegotiate trade agreements he says have undermined the nation’s manufacturing base and led to a wave of job losses in recent decades.
The imposition of punishing tariffs on imported goods has been a favoured tactic by Trump, but it has prompted U.S. trading partners to retaliate, creating risks for the economy.
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Trump has placed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, saying they pose a threat to U.S. national security, an argument that allies such as the European Union and Canada reject. He has also threatened to slap tariffs on imported cars, trucks and auto parts, potentially targeting imports that last year totalled $335 billion.
During a Monday event at the White House featuring American-made goods, Trump displayed a green hat that read, “Make Our Farmers Great Again.”
“We’re stopping the barriers to other countries. They send them in and take advantage of us,” Trump said. “This is the way it’s going to go – make our farmers great again.”
The president is meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday. The U.S. and European allies have been at odds over the president’s tariffs on steel imports and are meeting as the trade dispute threatens to spread to automobile production.