Southern farmers received the highest payments under the Trump administration’s 2019 trade bailout program, according to an official watchdog report on Monday that’s fueling fresh complaints from Senate Democrats about disparities in federal aid to the industry.

Key context: The Agriculture Department started sending tariff relief checks to farmers and ranchers after President Donald Trump launched a bruising trade war in 2018 that crushed agricultural exports and prices.

The bailout payments — separate from ongoing coronavirus farm relief programs — have totaled more than $23 billion so far. Democrats and watchdog groups have long criticized how the USDA distributed the money among different sectors of agriculture.

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