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UPDATE 2-U.S. $16 bln farm aid program to help expand markets -USDA's Perdue
(Adds Perdue comments, details, background)
WASHINGTON, May 23 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's $16 billion aid program will help American farmers hurt by the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, including efforts to open the door to their products outside of China, the U.S. agriculture secretary said on Thursday.
"Some of this $16 billion is going to be used for market access programs to go and build markets elsewhere," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in an interview on Fox Business Network. "If China's decided not to play, then we'll sell these great products elsewhere."
Perdue did not offer further details, but the USDA is scheduled to release more information on the aid package later on Thursday. Trump is also scheduled to address the nation's farmers at a 3:15 p.m. EDT (1915 GMT) White House event.
Part of the aid package could include direct payments to U.S. farmers of $2 per bushel for soybeans, Bloomberg reported this week.
Perdue cited efforts already underway to boost access for U.S. farm goods in India, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, among other countries, but acknowledged that China was the main player and expressed hope that talks could get back on track.
"We're having small singles and double hits out here," he told Fox Business. "But obviously the China market is huge. We would hope they would come back to the table."
Purdue added that he hoped Trump's planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the upcoming G20 meeting in Japan could help revive negotiations.
Perdue also acknowledged that U.S. farmers - a key constituency that helped Trump secure the White House in 2016 -- have been hit hard by the months-long trade fight with Beijing, and accused China of targeting the president ahead of his 2020 re-election bid.
"Farmers have been hurt disproportionately and China knows. They've gone right at President Trump's base politically that makes farmers feel pain, and he's not letting them bear the brunt of that," Perdue told the network. (Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Jeffrey Benkoe and Susan Thomas)
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