Trade

The Biggest Farms Get Bigger Under Trump’s Trade War, Bailouts

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

A combination of Trump's trade war, his uneven bailouts, and record flooding fueled by climate change has contributed to soaring bankruptcies and near-record debt, but that doesn't mean every farm is suffering as much as the next one.

The biggest farms in the country actually grew in the past year as they absorbed the land that was once farmed by people who've been pushed toward bankruptcy.

By the end of 2018, the average U.S. farm size rose to 443 acres, a 12-year high and up from 441 million in 2017, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

And the biggest farmers are growing their operations even more as retiring farmers choose to lease their land rather than selling it. [...]

The size of the loans smaller farmers would need to buy equipment, for example, are too big for applicants with little collateral, said Dave Kusler, president of the Bank of Hazelton in Hazelton, North Dakota.

Large farms also have the easiest access to capital, with bankers still eager to provide loans to growers with plenty of collateral. “The ag trend is going to larger farms,” Kusler, the bank president in Hazelton, North Dakota, said “The loans get much larger.”

Trump's bailout for farmers is ostensibly intended to aid those who've been hurt the most by Trump's trade war, but if that is the real goal then his first bailout was the only policy that came anywhere close to accomplishing it.

Trump's first bailout was based on the value of what farmers could no longer sell, but Trump's second bailout -- the bailout that's taking applications right now -- is based on the number of acres planted.

With his second bailout being based on acres planted, and with compensation amounts based on the state they were planted it, it's inevitable that the bulk of the bailout will be directed to the biggest farms with the greatest ability to exploit loopholes that allow them to receive multiple bailouts for multiple operations.

The consequences of Trump's trade war and the damage it has done to local farming economies will be with us for many years if not decades to come. Some communities may never look the same again.

It's ironic given that Trump was suppose to, you know, make everything "great again." He was suppose to bring blue collar jobs back to rural America, or at least that's what he claimed, but he's only pushing them further toward ruin.

  • muselet

    The biggest farms in the country actually grew in the past year as they absorbed the land that was once farmed by people who’ve been pushed toward bankruptcy.

    Feature, not bug.

    –alopecia

  • Badgerite

    Corporate farmer operations are getting the bailouts. Large farms. Not family farms.