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Alabama farmers affected by tariffs could receive relief

ALABAMA - White House officials announced Tuesday plans to provide billions of dollars worth of aid for farmers affected by tariffs.

This comes after China imposed a 25% retaliatory tariff last week on several crops Alabama farmers export like soybeans and cotton.

Tuesday morning President Trump talked about the tariffs on social media.

 

Senator Doug Jones fired back saying the tariffs quote the worst...He says retaliatory tariffs/taxes threaten $170 million in Alabama soybean exports to China annually.

 

Alabama has 400 thousand acres of soybean fields. Cotton is another major export.

One of the owners of Tate Farms located in Meridianville is in Washington DC watching the farm bill. He says part of his cotton crop goes to China. He's not alone.

In 2017 the US exported about 2.5 million bales of cotton to China.

Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan says the $12 billion relief package is being rolled out into three programs.

The first is a direct assistance program. The second one will be a purchase and distribution of some commodities for food banks and nutrition programs

The third one would utilize a "trade promotion program which would be working with other export opportunities to develop more customers for our crops that are that have been impacted by the tariff," McMillan said.

According to USDA, the funding falls in line with the estimated $11 billion impact of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports.

Even with the assistance programs, farmers worry about what this could mean for trade

"In the long term, it could be very damaging. I know already China has canceled 50,000 bales of cotton from delivery," Tate said.

That being said, he understands this is a strategy to fix trade problems with China.

'We want to be supportive of the president because we know there are issues with China and the trade agreement and have been."

McMillan says a lot is still up in the air. He hopes it will give the US a chance to develop new export customers.

Congressman Robert Aderholt told WHNT News 19 he applauds the president saying, "I applaud President Trump for standing up to China and other foreign government’s unfair trade practices. If our markets here are open to their goods then their markets should be open for American agriculture and manufacturing.”

Representative Terri Sewell says she is concerned about the impact of the trade war, saying “Farmers and ranchers are one of many constituencies who are facing direct losses from Trump’s bad trade decisions. In Alabama, our auto manufacturers, small business owners, and everyday consumers will face heavy losses if Trump follows through on his proposed tariffs. It’s time for this Congress to stand up to President Trump and put a stop to his isolationist trade policies.”

The assistance programs for farmers affected by tariffs will officially roll out in September.