On July 24, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the availability of $12 billion to aid farmers who stand to lose income because of tariff hikes by foreign nations. The money is intended as a temporary support while the administration negotiates new international trade agreements.

Tariff increases recently applied by the administration on aluminum and steel have prompted China, the European Union and Canada to respond by imposing additional duties on U.S. produces exported to those countries. Chinese officials have targeted a long list of agricultural items.

The USDA has identified producers of soybeans, pork, corn, sorgum, dairy items, wheat and cotton as the initial recipients of the special program. A second phase of the assistance will involve purchases of any “unextpected surplus” of beef, pork, milk, rice, legumes and some fruites and nuts will for distribution to food banks and other nutrition assistance facilities.

In addition to the problem posed for U.S. farm exports, important items imported from foreign countries will become more expensive for domestic consumers if the trade dispute continues.

The USDA plans to release more details about the special aid program later.