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Trump clashes with Democrats and threatens a government shutdown if he doesn’t get his border wall. Also on the Wednesday rundown: Lawmakers agree on an $867-billion Farm Bill; and a new report finds private community correction centers failing to rehabilitate people who live there.

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Farmer Aid Package Announced on Eve of Trump Visit to Iowa

China and Mexico are the two largest customers for U.S. soybeans, and as Iowa farmers know all too well this year, uncertainty swirls around trade negotiations with both nations. (Pixabay)
China and Mexico are the two largest customers for U.S. soybeans, and as Iowa farmers know all too well this year, uncertainty swirls around trade negotiations with both nations. (Pixabay)
July 25, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa – Farmers hit with dropping prices for crops and livestock in retaliation for U.S. tariffs received word on Tuesday that the Trump administration has put together a $12 billion aid package. However, some are saying it isn't nearly enough, and they'd prefer to see the trade war end.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the package will include a mix of direct payments to farmers, commodity purchases for nutrition programs and increased promotion of new U.S. export markets.

Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer, president of the American Soybean Association, acknowledged farmers' anxieties.

"We appreciate the president and the secretary rolling this out," he said. "Yes, it's a help, but it gets a long ways from taking care of the problems over the loss that we incurred."

Iowa is the world's top producer of soybeans. The aid package comes as Congress continues to debate the Farm Bill, set to expire in September, and just ahead of President Donald Trump's planned appearance in Dubuque on Thursday.

Trump has promised Iowa farmers, a group key to his 2016 victory and current base, that they will emerge from a trade war better off than they were before. Heisdorffer said farmers would like to see better trade balance between the United States and other countries, but he noted that the price of soybeans already has dropped 20 percent since tariffs were first announced.

"We need to get the Farm Bill done, and on time, so that gives a little certainly to farmers," he said. "And then secondly, we need to get NAFTA or some other trade agreement finished up."

Talks on NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, have stalled, but on Monday, Canadian and U.S. agriculture officials agreed to push the Trump administration to renew the discussion.

The farmers' aid announcement is online at govdelivery.com.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA