USDA working 'feverishly' on multi-billion dollar aid package for distressed farmers

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the Department is working 'feverishly' on a multi-billion dollar aid package for farmers hit hard by the tariffs and looming trade war with China.

Perdue says he and a team of economists and staff are working expeditiously to develop a comprehensive plan to offer farmers subsidies to offset losses of recent months. That plan will be presented to President Donald Trump in the coming days, and he says that the Commander-in-Chief wants to do all he can to back up American farmers.

"He understands that farmers are disappointed. He's disappointed. He'd rather have trade rather than aid too, but in a fair and free way. Not like China has been treating the United States for a number of years," said Perdue.

Perdue says the plan moving forward would work off the framework from last year's subsidies, but make improvements based off feedback from the farmers.

Pushing back against criticism that the administration is creating some of the stress on farmers, he says the President is fighting for fairer trade deals and terms for US agriculture and consumers.

"We finally have a President that's calling their hand on it," Perdue said about China's dealings.

The administration says it is fighting to stop theft of intellectual property and strengthen consumer protections in a potential trade agreement with China.

Meantime, Perdue says the administration is also working to expand American farmers' access to new markets, so the reliance is not so strong on China.

Friday morning, the USDA issued a press release that the U.S. beef industry is gaining full access to Japan's market. Perdue also spoke about his recent visit to Japan as he urged them to buy more U.S. rice.

"They import a lot of food and we think as a good customer, they ought to be reciprocating and buying U.S. products," said Perdue on the marketing mission to Japan.

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