The payments are for hog farmers affected by the retaliatory tariffs imposed by major international markets such as Mexico and China, which have put a financial strain on the industry.
The move has been approved by US President Donald Trump, who has committed to help farmers re-establish their businesses following months of uncertainty.
Pork producers with adjusted gross income of less than US$900,000 are eligible for direct payments of US$8 per animal – in two phases of US$4 each – based on the number of live hogs they owned on 1 August 2018, or on any day between 15 July and 15 August.
“The President reaffirmed his support for American farmers and ranchers and made good on his promise, authorising the second round of payments to be made in short order,” said USDA secretary of agriculture Sonny Perdue.
“While there have been positive movements on the trade front, American farmers are continuing to experience losses due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. This assistance will help with short-term cash flow issues as we move into the New Year.”
In July, USDA revealed it would aid farmers in response to trade damage from ‘unjustified retaliation’.
President Trump directed Perdue to draft a short-term relief strategy to help protect agricultural producers while the administration worked on trade deals to open more markets to help American farmers compete globally.
In September, USDA initiated three programs to aid American agriculture in sustaining the short-term damages associated with the trade disputes and securing stable export markets.
US pork had two 25% duties from China and a 20% tariff from Mexico imposed on the industry as part of a retaliation for tariffs placed on American steel and aluminium imports.
The news was welcomed by the National Pork Producers Council which said this was “further proof” of Trump realigning US trade policies.
“We need to end these trade disputes soon and open new markets, so we can export to consumers around the globe the safest, most nutritious pork in the world,” said NPPC president Jim Heimerl.
“US agriculture has borne the brunt of the retaliatory tariffs, so the administration’s aid plan helps.”