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President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced rules for a $19 billion coronavirus farm-aid package that covers a broad swath of U.S. agriculture and that producers can begin claiming by next week.

Farmers who suffered a 5% or greater price loss will be eligible for direct payments of as much as $250,000 per person, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a statement.

"We're standing strong with our farmers and ranchers once again," Trump said at a White House event with representatives of farm groups, citing two previous agricultural trade bailouts.

He said he has given more federal aid to farmers than any other president.

"You can go back to Abraham Lincoln, there's no other president who has treated the farmers like Trump," the president said.

The coronavirus pandemic has pummeled farmers, who are already struggling from years of depressed prices amid a global commodity glut and the president's trade war with China.

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The pandemic upended food-supply chains and damaged overseas markets as the global economy slid into recession. Dairy farmers have been dumping milk they cannot sell. Hog farmers have been forced to destroy market-ready animals as slaughterhouses have closed or slowed production because of employee illnesses.

The aid program will include dairy farmers; livestock producers; fruit and vegetable growers; and farmers of traditional row crops such as grains, soybeans and cotton.

Joseph Janzen, a Kansas State University agricultural economist, said in a Twitter post that aid payments may differ widely across grain farms depending on how they sold their 2019 crops, since benefits will be based on inventory held in storage on Jan. 15. Growers who sold their crops soon after harvest are likely to see little benefit, he said.

Farmers will get 80% of the payment upon approval of their applications, which they can submit as soon as next Tuesday, according to the USDA statement.

Congress allocated money for farm aid in its most recent coronavirus relief package. The program includes $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and $3 billion for purchases of commodities including dairy products, meat and fruits and vegetables.

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Trump, whose overwhelming support in rural areas was crucial to his narrow election victory in 2016, has courted farmers throughout his presidency. He authorized $28 billion in two trade bailouts to make up for farmers' losses in the tariff dispute with China. And he regularly lavishes praise on farmers and ranchers.

Business on 05/20/2020

Print Headline: Trump lays out rules for farm aid

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