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More Aid to Farmers if Necessary, Claims U.S. Administrators

While farmers have largely remained supportive of Trump, many have called for an imminent end to the trade dispute, which propelled farm debt to the highest levels in decades and worsened the credit conditions for the rural economy.

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White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks at an Opportunity Zone conference at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on the White House complex, April 17, 2019, in Washington. VOA

The Trump administration is ready to provide more federal aid to farmers if required, a White House adviser said on Monday, after rolling out up to $12 billion since last year to offset agricultural losses from the trade dispute with China.

“We have allocated $12 billion, some such, to farm assistance. And we stand ready to do more if necessary,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture had previously ruled out a new round of aid for 2019. As of March, more than $8 billion was paid out as part of last year’s program. On Monday, the department said it had extended the deadline to apply to May 17.

FILE - A farmer harvests a field of soybeans near Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
A farmer harvests a field of soybeans near Sioux Falls, South Dakota. VOA

A constituency that helped carry Republican President Donald Trump to victory in 2016, U.S. farmers have been among the hardest hit from his trade policies that led to tariffs with key trading partners such as China, Canada and Mexico.

While farmers have largely remained supportive of Trump, many have called for an imminent end to the trade dispute, which propelled farm debt to the highest levels in decades and worsened the credit conditions for the rural economy.

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“We have allocated $12 billion, some such, to farm assistance. And we stand ready to do more if necessary,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters. Pixabay

Beijing imposed tariffs last year on imports of U.S. agricultural goods, including soybeans, grain sorghum and pork as retribution for U.S. levies. Soybean exports to China have plummeted over 90 percent and sales of U.S. soybeans elsewhere failed to make up for the loss.

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer were scheduled to travel to Beijing on Monday for the latest negotiations in what could be the trade talks’ endgame.

Both sides have cited progress on issues including intellectual property and forced technology transfer to help end a conflict marked by tit-for-tat tariffs that have cost the world’s two largest economies billions of dollars, disrupted supply chains and rattled financial markets. (VOA)

Next Story

India to Set up Bio-Gas Plants to Tackle Pollution, but Experts Unsure

India Plans Bio-Gas Plants to Tackle Toxic Pollution, But Experts Skeptical

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Farmer India
An Indian farmer walks through his paddy field as he burns the paddy husk in Chandigarh, India. VOA

India is planning to set up more than 100 bio-gas plants and provide thousands of farmers with machines to dispose of crop stubble in a bid to halt the choking crop-burning pollution that blights the country every winter.

A major source of the smog that engulfs vast swathes of northern India, including the capital New Delhi, is the burning the straw and stubble of the previous rice crop to prepare for new planting in October and November.

New Delhi is regularly judged to be one of the world’s most polluted major cities.

Government-backed Indian Oil Corp Ltd will invite private companies to apply to set up 140 bio-gas plants that will use rice stubble as feed stock, said two government officials, who didn’t wish to be identified in line with official policy.

The plants would cost 35 billion rupees ($487.67 million) and each would require two tons of crop residue every hour for at least 300 days to produce “an optimum amount” of compressed natural gas (CNG), one of the sources said.

The government would earmark funds for the project that would make it attractive for farmers to sell their waste rather than burn it, they said.

India pollution
A woman crosses a railway line on a smoggy morning in New Delhi, India. VOA

The stubble pollution has become more acute in recent years because mechanized harvesters leave more residue than crops plucked by hand.

Other than helping farmers sell their residue to the new bio-gas plants, the government would provide 100,000 new machines every year to farmers to dispose of the farm waste in their fields, the sources said.

“We’ll give farmers the choice to either get rid of crop residue or sell it to the bio CNG plants,” one of the sources said.

Doubts persist

Environmental experts were skeptical.

Also Read- Pollution-Linked Deaths Highest in India: Study

“Given the amount of resources that the government has, what will decide the efficacy of this plan is consistent engagement with farmers,” said Nandikesh Sivalingam, a program manager for Greenpeace.

“But if you expect results next winter, it can’t happen.” (VOA)