President Donald Trump's $12 billion emergency aid plan designed to help farmers hit by retaliatory tariffs is seen as "unprecedented" and could have unintended consequences and potentially run afoul of World Trade Organization rules.
Some of the aid would come through a U.S. agency with authority that dates back to the Great Depression, but that authority has been used "fairly rarely" and on programs "in the millions of dollars," not billions, according to a former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The plan disclosed Tuesday by the Trump administration doesn't require congressional approval.
"This is unprecedented in terms of overall amounts," said Joseph Glauber, a former USDA chief economist and now a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington. "We've had ad hoc assistance packages where farmers received $6 billion or so in additional funds and some disaster relief. But this is a big number — and I was surprised by the level of it."