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UPDATE 1-U.S. farmers to start receiving final trade-aid payments this week -USDA

-USDA@ (Adds quote, background)

Feb 3 (Reuters) - U.S. farmers will start receiving the third and final tranche of trade-related payments by the end of this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a statement on Monday.

Washington has already paid two out of three parts of a $16 billion aid package announced in May to compensate farmers for losses sustained during an 18-month trade war with China, and the third had been expected in January.

China imposed tariffs on key U.S. agriculture exports including soybeans and pork in 2018 after the Trump administration levied duties on Chinese goods.

The final round of U.S. farmer payments were approved even though the United States signed an initial Phase 1 trade deal with China in mid-January. In the agreement, China committed to buying an average $40 billion in agriculture goods this year and next, up from $24 billion in 2017 before the trade war.

"We must not forget that 2019 was a tough year for farmers as they were the tip of the spear when it came to unfair trade retaliation," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in Monday's statement.

The Phase 1 agreement did not remove China's tariffs on key American agricultural exports like pork and soybeans, and many U.S. farmers have said they will need more assistance from the government to stay in business.

China bought roughly 60% of U.S. soybean exports before the trade war and was a major buyer of sorghum, dairy and pork.

The Trump administration spent $12 billion in trade aid for farmers in 2018. (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago Editing by Chris Reese and Tom Brown)