Free Trade

Trump Readies $6 Billion Bailout for Farmers Harmed by Trump Tariffs

Most of the funds are earmarked for soybean farmers, who would really rather just be able to sell their goods to China again.


Aleksandra Michalska/REUTERS/Newscom

President Donald Trump's trade war is going so well that the Department of Agriculture is about to start bailing out farmers.

The department announced today that the first $4.7 billion of a planned $12 billion aid package will be made available next week to farmers growing soybeans, cotton, wheat, and other products targeted by Chinese tariffs. (Those Chinese trade barriers, in turn, were a response to the Trump administration's decision to put tariffs on about $50 billion of Chinese goods.) Most of the bailout funds—$3.6 billion of the total—are earmarked for soybean farmers, who have been particularly hard hit by this year's trade war.

The money is being provided by a New Deal–era crop insurance program that's been dormant for decades. The feds will also purchase up to $1.2 billion in "commodities unfairly targeted by unjustified retaliation"—a bonus bailout by other means.

Soybeans are the most widely planted crop in the United States this year, narrowly edging out corn for the first time ever. Nearly half the U.S. soybean crop in recent years was exported. So Trump's trade war has wreaked havoc on farmers who bet on soybeans: Prices have dropped by more than 20 percent in the past three months. A ship loaded with soybeans spent a month circling Chinese ports after narrowly missing the deadline for tariff-free trade, in the process becoming a depressing symbol of the trade war's consequences.

While farmers and agricultural trade associations seemed to welcome the news of the bailouts Tuesday, many pointed out that they would prefer a reopened Chinese market to payoffs from Washington.

"This aid will allow a momentary reprieve," says Michael Petefish, president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, in a statement. "Unfortunately, if this trade war continues much longer, this aid package will feel less like a Band-Aid and more like a reminder of the trade relationships we lost and must rebuild."

Trump's trade war has caused many self-inflicted wounds, but none is as obvious as this plan to bail out farmers who wouldn't have needed saving if the tariffs had never been erected in the first place. This own goal comes with a $12 billion price tag for American taxpayers—who, oh yeah, are also going to have to pay more for various products, thanks again to Trump's tariffs.

As I've written before, you shouldn't view these subsidies solely as an economic program. They're better thought of as a public relations campaign in advance of the midterm elections. But even on that level, it will probably fail. Even if the bailouts made every injured American farmer whole, all they'd do is force a lot of people to fill out forms and stand in line to arrive back where they were before the trade war started.

But throwing money at a problem to make it go away is straight out of the Trump playbook. "This guy is trying to treat American agriculture like Stormy Daniels," an Indiana farmer named Mel Egolf told The Economist's James Astill two weeks ago. "He's saying take my money and keep quiet."

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  1. Where are the comments defending the tariffs as merely a sophisticated negotiation tactic from a deal-maker that’s so astute only the most brilliant minds can fully grasp his genius? Don’t tell me he actually is as dumb as Bernie, Warren, and others who don’t know market economics from their own elbows.

  2. “”The money is being provided by a New Deal?era crop insurance program that’s been dormant for decades””

    Liberals love the New Deal era stuff.

  3. If I had known Trump was going to cuck out to soyboys the second America started to be Made Great Again, I never would have illegally registered as an American citizen in order to vote for him.

  4. “This guy is trying to treat American agriculture like Stormy Daniels,” an Indiana farmer named Mel Egolf told The Economist’s James Astill two weeks ago. “He’s saying take my money and keep quiet.”

    Well then, guess who’s not going to be receiving any bailout money?

  5. “Trump Readies $6 Billion Bailout for Farmers Harmed by Trump Tariffs”

    Fake News

    The Anti-Trump propaganda never ends around here

    They’re harmed by *Chinese* tariffs, as are many US businesses. Trump is pressuring the Chinese to remove those barriers.

    1. The only program that should be made available to Trump-supporting farmers harmed by tariffs: Eat your Trump hats.

      I hope those hats are tasty and nutritious.

    2. He’s doing a really shitty job at it!

    3. Trump is pressuring the Chinese to remove those barriers.


    4. Now compare Chinese tariffs before and after Trump’s little game here.

    5. Trump could detonate the whole nuclear arsenal over mainland US, and you guys would still suck his dick like your lives depended on it.

  6. So he cuts taxes. Then he effectively raises taxes by imposing tariffs (cuz furrin gubmints subsidize THEIR biznesses). Then he spends tax money to subsidize US companies hurt by the tariffs.


    1. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…

  7. >>>But throwing money at a problem to make it go away is straight out of the Trump playbook.

    Shit, man. You had me, and then you lost me.

    That’s been the status quo for at least three generat- why do I have to even say this? FFS. Don’t mind me, this is just frustrating.

    Up to that point – brilliant. Boehm’s got a decent eye for the market. The tunnel vision kind of kills it, though. Come on, Eric, let your little light shine. See it all.

    1. “”That’s been the status quo for at least three generat- why do I have to even say this?”‘


  8. While I sympathize with American farmers harmed by Trump’s protectionist tariffs and the Chinese response thereto, my sympathy is mixed with a dash of schadenfreude.

    Recall that these same farmers objected loudly to the nomination of Rick Perry as Energy Secretary, on the grounds that he might weaken the Renewable Fuel Standard. They’re keenly in favor of free trade when it comes to selling soybeans to China; but suggest that people should be free to fill their gas tanks without subsidies or mandates to promote the use of corn-based ethanol, and you’ll quickly discover the limits of their free-market enthusiasm.

  9. awesome we sell China the soy it uses to poison the world w/soy sauce

  10. Create the problem, then make people think you are rescuing them from the problem. This is how government works.

    Of course it’s a problem now because Trump!

    1. Breaks your legs and gives you a crutch, and you’re supposed to be grateful…

  11. Boehm might make an attempt to explain how the US with an economy many times that of Canada could possibly have a $15 billion trade deficit with the likes of fucking Canada if the present trade aggrements are remotely fair.

    1. How does the greatest country on earth get snookered by trade deals so much? Furthermore, why does the wealthiest country on earth buy so much stuff!? Also, why don’t you include services in the trade ledger? Is it because that would show a surplus with Canada and render Trump’s ignorant tantrums even more nonsensical than they already are?

    2. We don’t have a trade deficit with Canada.

  12. “This guy is trying to treat American agriculture like Stormy Daniels. He’s saying take my money and keep quiet.”

    Except it’s not his money is it? And it’s not even Shark Week.

    1. “””This guy is trying to treat American agriculture like Stormy Daniels. He’s saying take my money and keep quiet.”””

      “”Except it’s not his money is it?””

      So I guess you’re wrong. For the reason you mentioned.

      1. I’m 100% certain he’d use other people’s money for the adultery payoffs if he could.

  13. >>>”He’s saying take my money and keep quiet.”

    80s called. Said “used to take money to grow dirt. what’s changed?”

    1. I originally came from a relatively smallish town in Texas with a lot of agriculture, and they do indeed get paid not to grow things on occasion. It’s lucrative ‘work’ if you have the land, connections, and lawyers to make it happen for you.

  14. Meanwhile Canada has rejoined talks relating to trade with USA and Mexico.

    Looks like it takes less than 90 days for Mexico, Canada and the EU to crack and renegotiate trade agreements with the USA. Go Trump!


    1. Isn’t it the same strategy as his entire career? Spend other people’s money, don’t pay them back, then rebrand the same deal with his big fat gold name on it?

      1. So, exactly like America?

      2. Always funny with the Trump contractor lie. Why would contractors keep doing business with Trump if he does not pay them?

        Lefties can never answer that one.

        1. Because a sucker is born every minute. Hell, just look in the mirror.

    2. The Faux Libertarian strikes again. Mexico agreed to some relatively minor modifications to “the worst agreement ever” (at least according to your Fuhrer), and since Nieto is a lame duck it’s likely his successor will throw it out and start over.

      1. We’ll see. Main point isthat Mexico caved to Trumps pressure, along with canada and the EU.

      2. Even calling lovecon a faux libertarian is an insult to libertarians. He/she is nothing but a Trump cultist.

  15. I hate to break it to you, but nobody wants to pay the ‘real’ price of food in the United States.

    1. Not for the mass-produced GMO crap they grow, which is mostly low quality.
      The farms should go back in the direction of smaller farms, and grow some decent ‘food’, and then people in the US will be interested in it.

      1. Not really. It will cost twice as much.

  16. Put a picture of the midwest farmer and cry that he is being harmed because Trump broke the free market. Reason needs to remember that the American farmer is a way by which tax dollars are pipelined to China. While we are at it let’s stop draining the Ogallala to prop up farmers and the Chinese middle class. Let’s really have a free market and stop the hideous farm bill.

  17. How about farmers grow something else? Or go into a different business?

  18. So we’re going to borrow money from China to pay farmers for revenue they lost due to our tariffs on China…

  19. Picture: Now that’s a man out standing in his field.

  20. They will be able to when the CCP Princes and Princelings realize that there are no other sources of soy at the volume and price available in America. If they wish to buck PDJT on tariffs, it will get very expensive for China’s masses.

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