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The Trump administration on Thursday outlined the details of a $16 billion aid package for farmers damaged by bad weather and the U.S. trade war with China.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture program includes $14.5 billion in direct payments to farmers for a range of crops, administration officials told reporters. It also has a $1.4 billion food purchase program and a $300 million trade promotion.
Sign-ups for aid start Monday, while payments will begin next month. The program, which was announced in May, will last through the fall and winter if the U.S. has not resolved the trade conflict. The USDA will base payments on factors such as specific crops and where farmers are located.
Covered products include soybeans, corn, barley, wheat, cotton, dairy, hogs, cranberries, cherries and various nuts, according to the USDA. See the full list here.
President Donald Trump has tried to boost farmers damaged by his ongoing trade conflict with China ahead of his 2020 reelection bid. The agriculture industry, which has taken a hit from Beijing's retaliatory tariffs, has typically supported Republican candidates.
On Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue defended sending aid to the agriculture sector as opposed to other industries damaged by trade policy.
"I think it's very clear that our farmers this year when these talks with China did not proceed as we had hoped, again continued to be affected by tariff damages – and I think it's entirely justifiable," Perdue told reporters.
He also said he believes China could still buy more U.S. crops — a condition Trump wants Beijing to fulfill as the world's two largest economies try to strike a trade deal.
Perdue said the administration has "no plans" for a 2020 aid program. However, he noted the administration did not initially plan on a 2019 package.
In a tweet Tuesday, Trump claimed "farmers are starting to do great again, after 15 years of a downward spiral." The president said the $16 billion aid package "didn't exactly hurt!"