Trump's on-again, off-again bailout for farmers who've lost access to the Chinese market because of Trump's trade war have seen their assistance cut off yet again by another disaster of Trump's own making.
The entire federal government has not been shut down, but the departments responsible for administering Trump's bailout have been and that has left farmers in the lurch at a very bad time.
The shutdown has blocked assistance for many farmers, who at this time of year apply for federal loans as they pay bills due from the previous year and begin budgeting for next season’s planting. It is also affecting aid payments promised to allay the effects of the trade war.
The timing is particularly bad for U.S. farmers, who are already suffering the fallout from the trade war’s raised tariffs and low prices for a top export crop, soybeans, with purchases by China lagging previous years.
“It’s just bad news on top of everything right now,” said Brian Duncan, whose family farms corn and soybeans and raises hogs in northwestern Illinois.
According to Reuters, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) instructed employees to cancel all previously approved payments when the government shutdown started. It's not clear if that means farmers who recently applied for assistance will have to start the process all over again.
You may recall that Trump also temporarily canceled his bailout for farmers following his G-20 meeting with Chinese President Xi Jingping. Trump hallucinated that he secured a trade deal and claimed the Chinese had agreed to immediately resume purchases of American soybeans, but that wasn't true.
Considering how often the bailout program has been interrupted, and considering how lackluster the assistance has been for most farmers, the bailout has been a monumental failure that should probably be investigated by House Democrats. Billions of dollars have flown out the window and we have no idea if it has made a substantial difference.
There's little doubt in my mind that this bailout program has been abused more than it has legitimately helped.