May 15, 2019

Trump administration has paid farmers $8.52 billion in aid to offset trade war

Cotton farm in California. Photo: Citizens of the Planet/Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

As of Monday, the Trump administration has made $8.52 billion in direct payments to farmers through a 2018 aid program designed to counter losses stemming from the trade war with China, a U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesperson said.

Why it matters: President Trump promised aid of up t0 $12 billion, but the program stalled during the month-long government shutdown and major flooding in the Midwest has caused farmers additional pain. A prolonged trade war, which seems to be where the U.S. and China are headed, could force the Trump administration to renew the program.

Details: When this portion of the trade mitigation program was created in September last year, farmers were supposed to receive a payment at 50% of the producerโ€™s total production, capped at $12 billion. This also includes support of up to $1.2 billion through commodity purchases and $200 million allocated to developing foreign markets.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) called on the Agriculture Department to count those acres affected by floods as part of the reimbursement program.

  • "We think thats got to be changed and that would go a long ways in terms of helping our producers," he said at an Axios event.

Top commodities that received aid:

  • Soybeans
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Cotton
  • Sorghum

Top states that received payments:

  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • Indiana

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Coronavirus spreads to more countries, and U.S. ups its case count

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 โ€” while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. Meanwhile, Italy reported its first virus-related death on Friday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,359 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

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Wells Fargo agrees to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges

Clients use an ATM at a Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo: Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Wells Fargo agreed to a pay a combined $3 billion to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday for opening millions of fake customer accounts between 2002 and 2016, the SEC said in a press release.

The big picture: The fine "is among the largest corporate penalties reached during the Trump administration," the Washington Post reports.