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Cherry, grape, cranberry and tree nut producers are among U.S. growers who will receive direct payments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture this year to offset damage caused by retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other countries.

Agriculture Sonny Perdue on May 23 said in a news release that the agency will help farmers in several ways to counter trade damage from retaliation and trade disruption.

President Trump, according to the release, has authorized USDA to provide up to $16 billion in assistance programs, which the USDA said is “in line” with the estimated impacts of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods and other trade disruptions.

Last year, the USDA made $12 billion available to help farmers hurt by trade retaliation.

“China hasn’t played by the rules for a long time and President Trump is standing up to them, sending the clear message that the United States will no longer tolerate their unfair trade practices, which include non-tariff trade barriers and the theft of intellectual property,” Perdue said in the release.  “The plan we are announcing today ensures farmers do not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other trading partners.”

The USDA said the Market Facilitation Program for 2019 will provide $14.5 billion in direct payments to producers. The agency did not specify payments limits for the numerous commodities in the program. Growers of wheat, corn, soybeans, cotton and are among those covered in the Market Facilitation Program, but so are growers of a few specialty crops. Tree nut producers, fresh sweet cherry producers, cranberry producers, and fresh grape producers will receive payments based on 2019 acres of production, according to the USDA.

The USDA said the payments will be made in three phases, with the first payment expected in late July or early August.

The agency said the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act authority will be used to implement a $1.4 billion Food Purchase and Distribution Program through the Agricultural Marketing Service. That program will purchase surplus commodities affected by trade retaliation, including fruits, vegetables, some processed foods, beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and milk. The purchases will be distributed by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to food banks, schools, and other outlets serving low-income individuals.

The USDA also said $100 million will be made available through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program to assist in developing new export markets on behalf of producers.
 

 
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