The Trump administration on Tuesday announced up to $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers caught in an escalating trade war, seeking to temper growing Republican dissent over President Trump’s trade policies.

The aid is designed to help farmers facing tariffs in China, Mexico and other countries that imposed the levies on U.S. products in response to Trump’s new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. It is the latest sign that growing trade tensions between the United States and other countries are unlikely to end soon.

White House officials say farmers will begin seeing payments by September, and they hope the payments will quiet protests by farm groups and lawmakers — many of them Republicans — who contend that Trump’s confrontational trade policy is harming American farmers months before the 2018 midterm elections.

Trump defended his approach Tuesday during a speech in Missouri, pleading with the public to “be a little patient” and arguing that farmers would eventually be “the biggest beneficiary” of his policies.

But many Republicans criticized the administration’s aid package, saying the president should back off his trade war and help farmers regain more access to foreign markets, rather than offering them government payments.

“If tariffs punish farmers, the answer is not welfare for farmers. The answer is remove the tariffs,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wrote Tuesday on Twitter, echoing many Republicans.

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