The Largest Farms Exploit Loopholes in Trump’s Bailout

Written by SK Ashby

Trump's bailout for American farmers harmed by his trade war and China's retaliatory tariffs are ostensibly intended to aid smaller family farms that have been pushed to the brink of bankruptcy, right?

That's the image we're suppose to conjure in our heads, but evidence has mounted that most family farms have received small and sometimes insulting amounts of aid and the Associated Press now reports that some of the largest farms in the country have exploited loopholes to collect more money from Trump's bailout than intended.

Trump's bailout included a limit on the amount of money that any single farm would be eligible for -- the idea being that a cap would increase the total number of farmers who could receive funds -- but the largest farms have applied for and received multiple payments at the same address.

Some owners have received multiple payments by making claims at multiple subsidiaries and business entities which actually represent one single farm.

From the Associated Press:

The government paid out nearly $2.8 million to a Missouri soybean-growing operation registered as three entities at the same address. More than $900,000 went to five other farm businesses, in Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee and two in Texas. Three other farming operations collected more than $800,000. Sixteen more collected over $700,000. And the data list more than 3,000 recipients who collected more than the $125,000 cap.

Recipients who spoke to AP defended the payouts, saying they didn’t cover their losses from the trade war, and they were legally entitled to them. U.S. Department of Agriculture rules let farms file claims for multiple family members or other partners who meet the department’s definition of being “actively engaged in farming.” [...]

The numerous ways around the $125,000 caps mean that millions of subsidy dollars flow to “city slickers who are stretching the limits of the law,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, which has long tracked federal farm subsidy programs, and criticizes them as biased toward big producers and promote environmentally damaging farming practices. Urban dwellers might play only a small role in an operation without ever setting foot on the farm because of the loose definitions for who qualifies, he said.

This raises some eyebrows, but so does this: the Department of Agricultural has still only spent $8.6 billion of Trump's initial $12 billion bailout according to the Associated Press which confirmed the number with the USDA.

Applications for Trump's first bailout were opened in September of 2018 and it's now July of 2019.

Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue has promised farmers that a second bailout is coming and Trump has even called for a third bailout, but they still haven't finished the first one.

National farm income dropped by nearly as much ($11.8 billion) as the full value of Trump's first bailout (which hasn't even fully paid out) during the first quarter of 2019 and has likely already dropped more than the total value of his second nascent bailout.

A bailout is no replacement for access to China's market of 1.4 billion potential consumers.