Guest Opinion: What about our farmers?
Published 1:18 am Wednesday, November 13, 2019
By Johnathan Hladik
Earlier this year, in the midst of a trade war with China, President Donald Trump announced a $16 billion agriculture bailout, telling Americans, via Twitter, the biggest beneficiaries would be “our great Patriot Farmers.”
Recent news reports, however, indicate foreign companies are getting a majority of the bailout dollars.
New statistics show JBS, a Brazilian company and the largest meat producer in the world, has received $78 million in government subsidies through the pork bailout program. The company has received one quarter of all subsidies paid through the program, more than any other recipient. Despite the well-known patterns of corruption that continue to engulf JBS, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has defended the payments.
Each year, our nation’s farmers, especially those operating small and mid-sized family farms, face numerous challenges in their operations. The ongoing trade war with China added another wrinkle to an already challenging year. Every farmer we know would rather have a resolution to the trade war. For now, however, the bailout funds remain an effective option for those seeking to recoup costs.
Instead of backing millions of dollars in bailout funds to a foreign company now under federal investigation for underpaying farmers and using illegal loans to consolidate the market, Secretary Perdue should be supporting the diligent American farmers who have worked for generations to make the agriculture industry what it is today.
Johnathan Hladik is policy director for the Center for Rural Affairs.