CHARLESTON -- While appreciated, the $12 billion in aid President Donald Trump's U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday for U.S. farmers is not enough to offset the impact tariffs will have on local farmers, according to the Coles County Farm Bureau.

Coles County Farm Bureau Manager Mary Cox said she appreciates the administration's "understanding and recognition" of the impact of trade tariffs on agriculture. Overall, however, the tariffs have "an extremely negative effect" on farmers, she added.

"This will not make farmers whole as we deal with the damaging effects of these tariffs," Cox said of the relief funds.

The $12 billion three-part plan will borrow money from the U.S. Treasury to pay producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy, and hogs.

The USDA also will buy the surplus of commodities that would otherwise have been exported and distribute them to food banks and other nutrition programs. That will cover fruits, nuts, rice, legumes, beef, pork and milk.

The third prong of the plan is to help farm groups develop new export markets.

"This is a short-term solution to allow President Trump time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the entire U.S. economy," said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

The money comes from the Commodity Credit Corporation, a USDA agency founded in 1933. It has authority to borrow up to $30 billion from the Treasury at any one time to "stabilize, support, and protect farm income and prices."

Cox urged the administration to continue to negotiate and try to restore trade relations with other countries that are consumers of American agricultural products.

As planned, the relief funds are limited to the current farming season and yield results will have to be known before farmers can apply for them, Cox said.

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Farmers who have good financial resources "should be OK," but for those who depend on loans or aren't as financially secure, "it's not going to be a pretty picture," she said.

The relief funds could help short-term but they come when agricultural product prices have been low "for quite some time," Cox added. She said the projected nationwide farm income for 2018 is $59.5 million, a 12-year low.

"This is also about American jobs," Cox also said. Equipment sellers, advisers, financial institutions and others that do business with farmers will "all take a hit," she said.

"That's why it's extremely important for the administration to work hard and get trade back up and running," Cox said.

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, is hopeful regarding Trump's trade policies that led to increased tariffs. 

“It’s undeniable that President Trump’s trade policies have brought hundreds of steel jobs back to Illinois," he said in a statement following the announcement. "...I appreciate the president’s commitment to helping my farmers, as he’s already helped my steelworkers, by fighting back against those who engage in unfair trade practices. The sooner we negotiate better trade deals, the better off all my constituents will be.”

Wednesday, Trump and European Union leaders announced they have agreed to work toward "zero tariffs" and "zero subsidies" on non-automobile goods and will work to resolve U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that have roiled European markets.

The president, in a Rose Garden statement with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said the EU had agreed to buy "a lot of soybeans" and increase its imports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. Juncker, meanwhile, said the U.S. and EU had agreed to hold off on further tariffs as part of trade talks aimed at averting a crippling trade dispute involving the lucrative automobile market.

Amid the discussion over trade, Trump will be heading to Granite City, Illinois, today (July 26).

The Associated Press contributed to this article. 

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Contact Jarad Jarmon at (217) 238-6839. Follow him on Twitter: @JJarmonReporter



Jarad Jarmon is a reporter for the JG-TC. He covers the city of Charleston, Eastern Illinois University, Mattoon schools and the Regional Office of Education.

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