farms

Farmers have been some of those hardest hit by Trump’s trade wars. So bad was the situation on American farms that Trump turned to socialism to save farmers, but new data shows that the small farms hit hardest were not the biggest recipients of aid.

More than half of the total aide to farmers went to just one-tenth of the recipients, according to new data from the Environmental Working Group. This was the result from a gigantic loophole in the program that helped support farms impacted by trade policies, called the Market Facilitation Program.

Payments from the Market Facilitation Program are capped at $125,000 per person in three areas: one for soybeans and other row crops, one for cherries and almonds and one for pork and dairy. But corporate farms have a way to amass far more. Any relative or partner who doesn’t live or work on the farm can still claim funds from the program as long as they help make management decisions.

As a result, the DeLine Farm Partnership of Charleston, Missouri managed to net almost $2.8 million from the program. And some farm aid money from other programs has even gone to foreign farming corporations. Meanwhile, the average farm in the bottom 80% of Market Facilitation Program recipients got less than $5,000 from the program.

Almost every dollar given out by the program went to white farmers. While many farmers are aging white men, there are presently more minority farmers than ever, according to the Department of Agriculture’s farm census.

“When Market Facilitation Program payments continue to overwhelmingly flow to an elite group of the largest farms, wealthy landowners and city residents with no real connection to the day-to-day operations on the land, it’s clear the program is deeply flawed and not delivering aid to those farmers in desperate need,” said Environmental Working Group senior adviser Donald Carr.

And there are farms in dire need. Last year farmers faced record bankruptcies and foreclosures. Trump’s trade policy has also correlated with an alarming rise in the farmer suicide rate.

Changes made to the program will further favor the wealthy farming corporations by tying benefits to acreage, rather than by other metrics like bushels or bales produced. The result is literally giving bigger farms bigger checks regardless of real impact on the farm from trade policy blowback.

(Featured image: Good Free Photos)

 

Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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