Federal Government To Offer Trade Assistance To Farmers After Tariffs Hurt Business

Jul 25, 2018

The U.S. Agriculture department says $12 billion is needed to help farmers who were hurt by the Trump Administration's tariff wars with China, Mexico and Canada.

Maine's Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb says some of that relief will likely make it to Maine dairy, potato and blueberry farmers. He says some of the administration's maneuvering has been aimed at lowering the 27 percent Chinese tariff already leveled at Maine blueberry exports – a favorite for people in China.

"They happen to love, you know, Maine wild blueberries,” says Whitcomb. “You can't grow them anywhere else in the world. And so the end result, the thing the administration is working for, is to get that back down so that we will have a chance to be in their market."

Whitcomb says it's likely some funds will go to dairy and potato farmers, which already face restrictions exporting to Canada.

“They only go over there if there's a dire need, in terms of entering the marketplace,” he says. “Potatoes in particular. So my counterpart has to declare an emergency for the potatoes to go that way. It just can't go as a part of commerce.”

Whitcomb says it is not clear how much money from the proposal may actually come to Maine.