President Trump tweeted this week that "Tariffs are the greatest!" Farmers disagree. | Citizens Against Government Waste

President Trump tweeted this week that "Tariffs are the greatest!" Farmers disagree.

The WasteWatcher

The federal government will soon dole out around $12 billion in "temporary relief" to farmers adversly affected by President Trump's tariffs and trade war, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Tuesday. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters that amount was "in line" with the estimated impact from retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agriculture exports. 

The aid will be awarded to cotton, corn, dairy, hog, and soybean farmers as well as possibly others. It is scheduled to go into effect on Labor Day. 

The adminstration's plan drew immediate criticism from many lawmakers. Senator Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said, "This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and the White House's 'plan' is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches." 

The aid, which does not need congressional approval, was designed to be a temporary stopgap for losses suffered by farmers amid growing fears of a trade war. However, getting on the government dole is rarely if ever temporary. Once the government starts handing out new giveaways, it is almost impossible to stop them. Greg Ibach, the undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs at USDA, called the aid disbursement "a one time program." But the USDA is disbursing the money through a financing vehicle known as the Commodity Credit Corporation which thanks to Secretary Perdue's efforts now has the authority to give out up to $19.1 billion a year indefinitely. 

President Trump told a crowd in Missouri earlier this week that they need to be patient during the ongoing trade disputes, so he can continue pressing U.S. trading partners for better deals. Depending on how long these trade disputes continue, the administration could turn what is currently a course correction in farm country into an all-out recession. If this happens, there is no way this payment of $12 billion will be a one time deal. 

Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., ripped the White House's planned aid as "welfare for farmers." 

"We've spent decades developing these markets, let us have access to them," added Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis. "End the Trade war now. The farmers I talk to, it's a pretty common refrain, "We want trade, not aid."