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Canada asks why U.S. made $30 billion available for its farmers

Staff Writer |
Canada wants the United States to explain why its lawmakers have made an additional $30 billion available to support U.S. farmers and how Washington might distribute the money, according to a document published by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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Canada’s questions also point to more potential trouble brewing at the World Trade Organization, where the United States has vetoed new judges for disputes.

Analysts say Canada is seeking clarity on what steps the White House might take to protect farmers whose support helped Donald Trump win the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Canada’s written question asked the United States to explain the U.S. Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, in which Congress lifted certain restrictions on the U.S. Agriculture Secretary’s authority to use Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funds.

The CCC has broad authority to make loans and direct payments to U.S. growers when prices for corn, soybeans, wheat and other agricultural goods are low. The White House is looking at ways to use CCC funds to offset farm income losses in a trade war with China or others, according to media reports.

“Canada understands that the CCC can borrow up to $30 billion from the Treasury Department at any one time to stabilize farm income such as assisting farmers through loans, purchases, payments and other operations,” Canada said.

“Could the U.S. please provide the reasoning for lifting restrictions on the USDA’s authority to use CCC funds, and name the programs that will be eligible for these new funds?”

Canada also wants to know if Washington can use CCC funds to buy domestic surpluses, such as dairy products, or corn and soybeans.

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