Trump, Biden debate source of billions in aid to farmers

“China is paying. They’ve paid billions and billions of dollars. I just gave $28 billion to our farmers.”

President Trump took credit for billions of dollars in trade war payments to U.S. farmers during the final presidential debate on Thursday. “I just gave $28 billion to our farmers,” said Trump. “Taxpayers’ money,” interjected Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the only reference to agriculture, lasting less than a minute, in the two debates between the candidates.

Biden and Trump squabbled over the Sino-U.S. trade war, with Biden saying the United States would be in a stronger position if it worked with its allies to demand China reform its trade practices rather than acting alone. “I would make China play by the rules,” said Biden.

When moderator Kristen Welker asked Trump how he would make China pay for predatory trade practices, he replied, “China is paying. They’ve paid billions and billions of dollars. I just gave $28 billion to our farmers.”

The tally of trade war payments is actually $23 billion. And those payments came through a USDA agency, reimbursed by Congress, although Trump says the money was from tariffs paid by China.

“Taxpayers’ money,” interposed Biden. “It’s called China,” Trump insisted.

Biden said that, if elected, he would promptly propose immigration legislation that includes a roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country if they register, are up to date on taxes, and pass a background check. His campaign says the immigration package would include farmworker reforms.

“Biden supports compromise legislation between farmworkers and the agricultural sector that will provide legal status based on prior agricultural work history, and a faster track to a green card and ultimately citizenship,” says the campaign in an apparent reference to a bipartisan bill passed by the House, 260-165, last year to assure a legal farm workforce and modernize the H-2A guestworker program. “Biden also will ensure labor and safety rules, including overtime, humane living conditions, and protection from pesticide and heat exposure, are enforced with respect to these particularly vulnerable working people.”

To watch a C-SPAN video of the debate, click here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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