September 15, 2020
US farm aid payments only benefitted larger southern farms
A government watchdog agency said farmers in the US southeast that grow cotton or sorghum received larger federal government aid payments compared to corn, soybean and swine farmers in other parts of the country, Reuters reported.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO), a non-partisan agency found that farmers in Georgia state received an average of US$119 per acre compared to the US$54 per acre in the rest of the United States.
Debbie Stabenow, US Senator of Michigan, said Georgia is the home state of Sonny Purdue, US Secretary of Agriculture. The Senator requested the GAO report.
The Trump administration rolled out subsidy schemes to farmers in the country to account for the lost sales during the US – China trade war.
A USDA spokesman said in response to the GAO report that Stabenow and Senate Democrats are stating a false narrative and twisting the data. No explanation was given about the false narrative, but the department noted an average of trade aid to farm states between 2018 and 2019.
The GAO report showed other crop farmers such as corn and soybean received 25% of less in payments, compared to cotton farmers who received 40% of their projected value.
The USDA said higher payments were allotted to cottom and sorgum farmers because they were hit with higher trade damages per unit of production, over soybean, corn and swine farmers.
The GAO report also said the top 25 farms in the country received about US$1.5 million per farm, with 70% of these farms based in the south.
Gary Wertish, Michigan Farmers Union president, said the trade aid payments have set a bad example for future US agriculture policy.