U.S. Senator Steve Daines says that if there’s a trade war, the first casualties will be American farmers.
"That is a big problem, so we don’t want that. Nobody wants that. President Trump doesn’t want that," said Daines.
Daines spoke on C-SPAN Wednesday about the Trump Administration’s plan to provide up to $12 billion in emergency relief for farmers suffering from retaliation to the president’s recent trade policies.
Montana’s Republican senator said he still fully supports the president taking a stand against what Daines called China’s "unfair trade practices."
Critics are calling Trump’s emergency relief for farmers a taxpayer-funded bailout.
Republican Senators from Pennsylvania and Nebraska have called the $12 billion package little more than a band-aid on the trade policies that are financially crippling farmers.
Daines said he agrees that the relief funds are only a short-term solution, and noted that Montana’s agricultural economy alone is $7 billion.
"So the $12 billion that’s been proposed here, frankly, is not going to make a big difference I don’t believe."
Daines, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee says what’s needed, and soon, is a long-term solution that involves free and fair trade and better trade policies between the U.S. and China.
However, many lawmakers are taking news of the relief funds as a sign that a long-term solution is still far-off.
The $12 billion in federal relief money for farmers could be available as early as September. The White House says it will include direct payments to farmers and ranchers , purchases of surplus ag products, and funding to find new export markets for U.S. goods.
But Daines said the number one issue he hears about from farmers in Montana these days is keeping crop insurance in the Senate Farm Bill. Daines said Montana’s farmers want safety nets like crop insurance, not government handouts.
"They’re not- they truly, they don’t want a handout. You know the days of subsidies and so forth are behind us," said Daines.
The current farm bill is set to expire at the end of September unless Congress renews it.