U.S.: Trump's farm aid favors wealthy growers, report finds
A new report has found that U.S. President Trump's initiative to provide aid for growers suffering the impacts of the trade war is supporting one group overwhelmingly - weather farmers.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the program has disproportionately helped rich landowners.
Moreover, Donald Carr, a senior advisor for EWG, argues that the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) - through which most of the grower payments were made - has deepened the disadvantages of black and minority farmers.
EWG yesterday released updated data on payments made through the first two rounds of the relief money dole out.
MFP payments: A breakdown
Through April, total MFP payments for 2018-19 were US$8.4 billion. This data was obtained from the USDA through a Freedom of Information Act request.
EWG’s analysis of the data found that the top one-tenth of recipients received 54% of all MFP payments.
Specifically, 82 farmers have so far received more than US$500,000 in payments.
Meanwhile, one farm, DeLine Farm Partnership, of Charleston, Missouri, has so far received US$2.8 million in MFP payments.
The top 1% of MFP recipients received, on average, US$183,331. The bottom 80% received, on average, less than US$5,000.
Payment policy loopholes for wealthy farmers
Until now, MFP payments have been linked to crop production, favoring the largest producers of certain crops, reports the publication.
The USDA initially said it would place a US$125,000 cap on MFP payments; however, the department chose to apply rules that allow relatives who do not contribute meaningful work on the farm to receive farm payments.
According to the publication, the policy change allows many farm businesses to evade the cap.
Changes to the second round of MFP payments, announced last week by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue, will further favor the largest farmers by linking payments to the number of acres, not the number of bushels or bales produced.