The U.S. Department of Agriculture's $12 billion aid package to help farmers who are feeling the effects of tariffs on their products may be smaller than originally planned, the news agency Reuters is reporting.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told Reuters on Tuesday that the aid package, known as the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), could end up shrinking after the U.S., Canada and Mexico struck an agreement to update NAFTA.
“We will be recalculating along as we go,” Perdue said in a phone interview with the agency, regarding the second tranche of the planned compensation, estimated at about $6 billion, which was first announced in July after U.S. and China imposed trade tariffs on each others imports. “If the tariffs do come off and the tariff impact lessens it will have some impact over the mitigation efforts because mitigation efforts were based on the fact that they would be tariff damage related."
According to Reuters:
China has traditionally been the biggest buyer of U.S. agriculture exports but it has been largely out of the market for several products, such as soybeans, since implementing levies on U.S. imports in retaliation for the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese goods. The aid package includes cash payments for farmers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hogs. The USDA had already outlined the allocations for the first $6 billion at the end of August.
Perdue said the picture has changed after the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was reached, a revamp of the NAFTA trade agreement between the three nations.American farmers have yet to see the full benefit of the new accord as an ongoing dispute over steel and aluminum tariffs mean they still face retaliatory measures when trading with Canada and Mexico. That agreement also does not address the harm as a result of the trade war with China.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration announced tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum imports. This prompted trading partners like Canada and Mexico to retaliate. The steel and aluminum tariffs are not addressed in the new trade agreement.