The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has authorised US$12bn in funding for programmes aimed at supporting the country’s farmers, who are reeling from the effects of China’s tariffs on US agri products.

Announcing the aid package on 24 July, US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said several actions were being taken to assist farmers in response to “trade damage from unjustified retaliation”.

A Market Facilitation Program would provide direct payments to affected farmers producing goods such as soya, sorghum, corn and hogs, while a Food Purchase and Distribution Program would buy up unexpected surpluses and the Trade Promotion Program would develop new export opportunities.

“This is a short-term solution to allow US President Donald Trump time to work on a long-term trade deal to benefit agriculture and the entire US economy,” Purdue said.

The USDA said that trade damage from China’s tariffs, imposed in retaliation to US tariffs on various Chinese imports, had impacted key US agri commodities, including soyabeans and sorghum.

Additionally, the agency alleged that US goods shipped overseas were being slowed from reaching their destination markets by “unusually strict or cumbersome entry procedures”.

US farmer groups said that while the aid package was welcome, the only long-term solution would be the removal of the tariffs on China.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) said it appreciated the US government’s response but wanted a longer-term strategy to alleviate the soyabean surpluses, including the removal of harmful tariffs.

“Our best course of action is to expand other markets and develop new ones to buy the soyabeans we’re not selling to China. This mean finishing the NAFTA negotiations as soon as possible so we can begin talks on new bilateral agreements with other key soyabean markets, including Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines,” said ASA president John Heisdorffer.

Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) echoed the sentiment, saying his association advocated the removal of harmful tariffs, securing NAFTA’s future, entering new trade deals, allowing year-round sales of E15 and higher ethanol blends, and implementing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as intended.