WASHINGTON – Environmental Working Group is seeking disclosure of details on the taxpayer-funded payments to farmers through President Trump’s $12 billion bailout for growers impacted by the president’s trade war.
In a Freedom of Information Act request filed Monday, EWG asked that the Department of Agriculture turn over the names and addresses of corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean and wheat farmers receiving the payments and how much each is getting. The petition said disclosure is authorized under section 1619 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.
“Under law, President Trump and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue are required to make the details about these payments public,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs. “One way or the other, EWG plans to get this information so that taxpayers who are paying the tab know where their money is going.”
On Aug. 27, Perdue announced plans to spend up to $12 billion to aid farmers punished by retaliatory tariffs levied on U.S. agribusiness by China and other nations in response to the Trump administration’s trade war.
The Washington Post reported on September 21 that USDA’s Market Facilitation Program has approved 7,851 applications for payments. This month alone, USDA has already sent checks for nearly $26 million to farmers.
Many of the farmers in line for these bailout payments already take hefty sums in taxpayer money through longstanding farm subsidy programs, including the bloated federal crop insurance program. Payment records from USDA reported in EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database show farmers have received more than $353 billion in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2016.
According to the USDA, soybean farmers stand to see the largest share of the initial $4.7 billion in payments through the Market Facilitation Program. China is the world’s largest importer of soybeans, and before Trump touched off his trade war with the country, roughly 25 percent of U.S. soybeans found their way to China.