The White House hit the brakes on the second round of Trump's bailout for farmers last week because, in Trump's own words, the Chinese were starting to buy “tremendous amounts” of American soybeans.
The "thinking," if you could call it that, was that American farmers would not need the bailout if the Chinese reentered the market.
The problem is the Chinese have not reentered the market in any meaningful way as retaliatory tariffs on American crops have not been lifted. Trump had merely imagined or hallucinated that a breakthrough had been reached.
Now, a week after insisting the bailout is no longer needed, Trump has resurrected the bailout.
“Today I am making good on my promise to defend our Farmers & Ranchers from unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations,” Trump tweeted. “I have authorized Secretary [Sonny] Perdue to implement the 2nd round of Market Facilitation Payments. Our economy is stronger than ever — we stand with our Farmers!”
The move brings the total direct payments to farmers to nearly $9.6 billion. More than 75 percent of the direct trade relief is devoted to soybean growers, who have been slammed by the drop in demand from China, the largest foreign market for U.S. soy.
While Trump has instructed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to lift their hold on the second around of his bailout, the second round will apparently be smaller than originally intended.
The second round was suppose to weigh in at $6 billion for a total of $12 billion between two rounds, but the second round is now set to include $4.9 billion in aid for a total of $9.6 billion according to Politico.
Suffice to say, if the first round of Trump's bailout was too small as the farm lobby has repeatedly said, I think we can infer that the second and smaller round will also miss the mark.
It's not immediately clear what led Trump to change his mind about canceling the second round of his bailout, but farmers may be able to thank Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue for that. Perdue visited the White House yesterday after being caught off guard by Trump's decision to cancel the bailout. It's possible Perdue informed Trump that the Chinese have not reentered the market, or maybe Trump's Adderall simply wore off.
It's amusing that Trump said he has "authorized Secretary Perdue" to implement the bailout because it was not Perdue's decision to cancel it, but Trump probably wants you to think it was.