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President Trump. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Tuesday unveiled details of an emergency plan to extend $12 billion in aid to farmers hit by retaliatory tariffs caused by President Trump’s escalating trade war.

Why it matters: The plan has received backlash from farm-state conservatives who advocate for free market economics. Earlier this year, Axios reported that Trump floated a similar idea of creating subsidy payments for farmers, but it was shot down by Republican lawmakers.

The details: Perdue argued this a "short term" plan that would give President Trump enough time to work on long-term trade deal. He singled out China for imposing what he called "illegal retaliatory tariffs."

  • Under the program, the government will make direct payments to farmers and ranchers who produce soybeans, corn and hogs, purchase various commodities from farmers and distribute them to food banks and other nutrition programs, and develop new export markets with the private sector.
  • Officials said the plan doesn't require congressional approval, but added that congress has been notified.

The backdrop: Canada, China, Mexico, and the European Union have responded to the administration's tariffs on steel and aluminum. Beijing recently retaliated with duties on soybeans and pork, affecting 10 states that primarily grow the crop — nine of which voted for Trump in 2016.

Go deeper

Updated 6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are being inaugurated as president and vice president respectively in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Top Democrats and Republicans gathered for the peaceful transfer of power at the Capitol only two weeks after an unprecedented siege on the building by Trump supporters. Trump did not attend the ceremony.

Joe Biden sworn in as 46th president of the United States

Joe Biden was sworn in just before noon on Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States, in an inauguration ceremony unlike any other.

Why it matters: The 78-year-old Democrat assumes the presidency at a fraught moment for the country, which remains polarized and in the grips of a coronavirus crisis that has killed more than 400,000 Americans.

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has taken the oath of office at the Capitol. Watch a livestream here.

What's next: President-elect Joe Biden will take his oath of office. Shortly after, President Biden will deliver his inaugural address. What to expect.