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USDA Data: Nearly All Pandemic Bailout Funds Went to White Farmers
Nearly all of the billions of dollars in federal farm bailouts to offset the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic went to white farmers, newly revealed Department of Agriculture data show.
White farmers received nearly 97 percent of the $9.2 billion provided by October 2020 through USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP, according to data obtained by the Land Loss and Reparations Project through the Freedom of Information Act and shared with EWG. The bailout program, created last May by the Trump administration, was suspended last month while under review by the Biden administration.
USDA data shows that white farmers received, on average, four times more than the average Black farmer. Using data from USDA’s Farm Census, EWG calculated that the average white farmer received $3,398, whereas the average Black farmer received $422.
In total, white farmers received $6.7 billion in CFAP payments, and Black farmers received just $15 million. Latino farmers received $100 million, Native American farmers received $76 million and Asian American farmers received $17.6 million.
The disparity between white and Black farmers was even greater for the Market Facilitation Program, or MFP, created by the Trump administration to offset the impact of Trump’s failed trade war with China, which closed lucrative Chinese markets for many American farmers. Using data obtained through a separate FOIA, the Farm Bill Law Enterprise previously reported that 99 percent of MFP went to white farmers.
EWG calculated that white farmers received, on average, an MFP payment 10 times larger than the average Black farmer: $10,674 for white farmers, compared to $1,074 for Black farmers. White farmers received a total of about $21 billion, while Black farmers received a total of about $38 million. Latino farmers received a total of about $99 million, Native American farmers received about $52 million and Asian American farmers got about $17 million.
The data obtained by the Land Loss and Reparations Project covers the first round of CFAP payments only, made through October 2020. The data does not cover a second round of CFAP payments, made before the Biden administration froze payments, pending review.
The disparity in payments between white and Black farmers reflects both the design of the CFAP program – which linked payment to production – and the long history of discrimination by USDA, which systematically denied or delayed subsidies, loans and other payments to Black farmers. In 1920, Black farmers accounted for one-fifth of all U.S. farmers, but they currently make up just 1.7 percent of all farmers and have seen the size of their farms shrink.
Like CFAP payments, MFP payments were tied to production, so the largest and most successful producers collected the vast majority of the funding. Smith & Sons, based in Bishop, Tex., got total MFP payments of more than $3.2 million.