WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined a group of Senate Democrats to release a new report detailing how the Trump Administration is picking winners and losers in their attempt to aid farmers affected by President Trump’s turbulent trade agenda. The data shows that in the wake of the trade uncertainty created by the President’s actions, the $25 billion in mitigation payments to help farmers has been distributed unevenly across the country, benefitting some regions more than others.
Farmers in Ohio are receiving $23.76 less per acre than farmers in Georgia and other Southern states. At a county level, the payment rate for Fulton County, one of the biggest agricultural producing counties in Ohio, was $67. Twenty-two counties in mostly southern states received the maximum payment rate of $150 per acre.
The new report outlines that while farmers are in dire need of assistance, the Administration’s Market Facilitation Program (MFP) has treated farmers unfairly by, among other things, sending 95% of the top payment rates to southern farmers, who have been harmed less than other regions, and helping farms owned by billionaires as well as foreign-owned companies, including awarding $90 million in purchase contracts to a Brazilian company. In light of the report’s findings, the Senators also sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to improve its trade assistance program to better support small farmers and pursue a focused trade policy to rebuild the markets American farmers have lost.
“Once again, the Trump administration is turning their backs on Ohio farmers,” said Brown. “Ohio farmers need the relief this year, after heavy rains and flooding in the state, and this Administration’s continued efforts to undercut the Renewable Fuel Standard. By mismanaging these payments to farmers, the Trump administration is playing favorites and betraying the farmers who need it the most.”
Over the past two years, President Trump has pursued a chaotic approach to trade that has created unprecedented uncertainty for American agriculture and farmers in Ohio. While farmers are in dire need of assistance, according to an analysis of USDA data, the Administration’s Market Facilitation Program (MFP) has treated farmers unfairly by:
- Picking Winners and Losers between Regions and Crops:
95% of top payment rates have gone to southern farmers, who have been harmed less than other regions
- Helping Wealthy Farms and Foreign Companies Instead of Small Farms:
Payments made to billionaires and foreign-owned companies, including $90 million to JBS, a CORRUPT Brazilian company
- Failing to Recover Market Access:
No long-term investment or plan for rebuilding markets
In the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill, Congress provided balanced support to help farmers manage market instability across the country and provided permanent support for USDA export market development programs. The Senators raised concerns that the Administration’s policy upends this careful compromise, replaces income from markets with government payments, creates vast inequities, and does not address the actual trade damage to farmers who have been hit the hardest.
The letter was signed by Brown and Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Robert Casey (D-Penn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).