U.S. announces $12 bn in aid to farmers hurt by trade tariffs

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The U.S. readied a plan today to send billions in emergency aid to farmers who have been hurt by President Donald Trump's trade disputes with China and other American trading partners.

The US president posted his latest tweet ahead of European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker's arrival in Washington for trade talks.

Farmers have been a particular target in the current clash over trade policy as other countries seek to retaliate for US duties on Chinese goods as well as on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

The U.S. Agriculture Department's action highlights the ongoing toll of Trump's trade actions, particularly now that China and others have retaliated against the president's tariffs on imported metals and other goods by imposing levies aimed largely at America's agricultural community.

U.S. President Donald Trump suddenly seems to be a big fan of dropping all "tariffs, barriers and subsidies" with at least one trading partner, mere hours after he tweeted "tariffs are the greatest".

"I can't argue they are trying to help us but how long will this last?" said Watne.

Trump has in recent months engaged in a multifront trade confrontation, imposing steep tariffs on steel, aluminum and tens of billions of dollars in Chinese goods, which sparked swift retaliation against key U.S. farm products like soy and pork.

The government's action points to administration concern about damage to USA farmers from Trump's trade tariffs and the potential for losing House and Senate seats in the Midwest and elsewhere.

"This administration will not stand by while our hard-working agricultural producers bear the brunt of unfriendly and illegal tariffs", said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in a statement yesterday announcing the move.

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President Donald Trump told European leaders Wednesday that the USA wants a "fair trade deal" with the European Union as both sides sought to defuse tensions in an escalating trade battle involving some of the world's biggest economies.

Mr Trump on Tuesday crowed that it was his tough stance and threats of auto tariffs that brought the European leader to the bargaining table.

A second proposal would be for a TTIP-lite deal, reducing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, acomprehensive trade agreement between the USA and the European Union pursued by Barack Obama and dumped by Trump, to a limited one focused only on industrial tariffs. The USDA projected earlier this month that average soybean prices paid to farmers would fall 75 cents to US$9.25 a bushel next year.

"I think that we have to talk each to another, not at another", Juncker added. "What farmers in Iowa and throughout rural America need in the long term are markets and opportunity, not government handouts".

Beijing imposed tariffs on $34 billion worth of United States products, including soybeans, earlier this month.

Trade damage from such retaliation has impacted a host of USA commodities, including field crops like soybeans and sorghum, livestock products like milk and pork, and many fruits, nuts and other specialty crops, it said.

The publication said that - according to two people familiar with the plans - the aid would be announced by the United States Department of Agriculture and would come through direct assistance programs. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said in a statement Tuesday.

A number of other Republicans have also criticized Trump for both the tariffs and the ensuing bailout. But the taxes also exact a toll on USA businesses and consumers, which pay more for imported products. "They sound nice, but they're rough", he told a convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars. Ryan said he doesn't support tariffs.

"Tariffs are the greatest!" the president wrote on Twitter.