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News from 2018 mentioned $12B:

[07/24/2018] Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Tuesday unveiled a three-part, $12 billion plan to ease the sting of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. farmers through a mix of payments, purchases and trade promotion efforts.

The plan seeks to ensure that U.S. farmers and ranchers — a key constituency for President Donald Trump and Republicans — don’t bear the brunt of an escalating trade fight as the administration pursues an aggressive course to rebalance America's trade relationships. [...]

Perdue said the amount is in line with the roughly $11 billion in negative effects that USDA has calculated agricultural producers have suffered as a result of “illegal” retaliatory tariffs imposed by China, Canada, Mexico, the European Union and other major economies.

The aid also doesn’t address other sectors of the economy that have been hurt by retaliatory tariffs by U.S.’ largest trading partners, such as manufacturers, consumers and other industries.

But sticking just with US farmers, was that $12B rolled over to 2019? What's the total sum to date?

  • At the risk of whataboutism, how big is this compared to normal farm subsidies? – Andrew Grimm Nov 13 '19 at 1:41
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The total figure over two years is indeed $28B:

At Trump’s direction, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has rolled out $28 billion in trade aid for farmers over the past two years - $12 billion last year and another $16 billion announced this July and being disbursed now.

There were also some changes in the program's structure from the first year to the second:

In the first $12 billion of trade aid, farmers were paid by crop, based on estimated lost sales to China: $1.65 per bushel for soybeans; one penny for corn, which was not widely sold to China in 2017; and 6 cents per pound of cotton. The paltry payouts for corn, cotton and other crops infuriated farmers growing them, who argued the USDA paid soybean farmers at their expense.

Payments to corn and cotton farmers are expected to surge under the second round of aid. Estimated payouts to corn growers, when averaged across all U.S. counties, are 14 times higher than in the first round of aid, according to a USDA explanation of its methodology. Cotton producers’ payments quadrupled.

Instead of paying different rates according to crops grown, the new methodology pays farmers based on the estimated impact of trade policy on all agriculture in their county - regardless of what an individual farmer plants.

[...] USDA also said it was trying to avoid influencing planting decisions - such as farmers switching to soybeans in hopes of a bigger trade-aid check.

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$16B, according to Bloomberg reporting in July of 2019:

The Trump administration has announced a new $16 billion round of trade aid for farmers this year as the trade dispute with China continues.

Part of the payments may be found in this database which lists payments under the Market Facilitation Program, which is:

The Market Facilitation Program (MFP) provides assistance to farmers and ranchers with commodities directly impacted by unjustified foreign retaliatory tariffs, resulting in the loss of traditional export markets. Assistance is available for agricultural producers of non-specialty crops, dairy, hogs, and specialty crops.

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    So the total is $28B since the trade war began? – Fizz Oct 2 '19 at 12:38
  • @Fizz I don't know. It may even be that not all of the money that's been approved has actually been given out, but that's speculation on my side. I did found a database which seems to include some of the allocated money. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Oct 2 '19 at 12:40
  • From the Bloomberg article, it seems that out of the $12B, $8.4B was direct aid to farmers, while the remainder "included other programs, including commodity purchases and export promotion assistance". It doesn't provide enough detail on what that means to say whether that should be included in this count, though – divibisan Oct 2 '19 at 15:25

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