Richest Farms Reap Bulk of U.S. Agriculture Aid, Study Shows

Bloomburg
By Kim Chipman

As Republicans and Democrats in Washington try to settle a high-stakes dispute over agriculture aid, a study shows the bulk of billions of dollars in U.S. subsidies going to the country’s biggest and richest farms.

In the 2018-2019 crop years, more than half of about $23 billion in payments from the Market Facilitation Program went to the top 10% of farms, according to the Environmental Working Group, a critic of agribusiness subsidies. The funds are meant to offset harm from the U.S.-China trade war.

“We aren’t really helping people who need the help,” EWG analyst Anne Schechinger said in an interview. “Small farms don’t have a lot of assets to fall back on during hard times and then they are the ones most likely to actually go out of business.”

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are trying to resolve a disagreement over farm relief that raised the risk of a U.S. federal shutdown on Oct. 1. House Democrats on Monday released a short-term funding bill that lacks $30 billion sought by Republicans for the Commodity Credit Corp., a government-owned entity that aims to stabilize farm income.

Congress Holds Fresh Talks on Stopgap Funding to Avert Shutdown

A study of $5 billion in payments through June 30 under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which is intended to help farmers hurt by the pandemic, shows the top 1% of farms receiving 22% of the money, for an average payment of $352,432. The smallest 80% of farms got 23% of the aid, with the average payment $4,677, according to the advocacy group.

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