Perdue keeps farmer protection plan underwraps

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Foreign governments are considering targeting U.S. farmers as the world teeters on the edge of a trade war.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said his agency is prepared to compensate farmers if they get stung by new taxes on products sold abroad. He said they've landed on a formula to calculate losses due to new tariffs as opposed to regular market ups and downs.

But Perdue won't say how that safety net would work, emphasizing they want trade, not aid. "That's why we hold these things in our back pocket. If need be, the president has insisted that he will protect our agricultural industry and protect farmers," he said, "they will not bear the brunt of any trade disruption."

Perdue said farmers are understandably anxious.

Possible new tariffs on American produce - a direct response to U.S. taxes on imported steel and aluminum -- could take effect as soon as July first.
Europe, Canada, and Mexico have threatened to hit goods ranging from pork to maple syrup.

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