Members of Congress Got Nearly $16 Million in Farm Subsidies and Trade War Bailout

Thirty-three members of Congress and their immediate family members collected a total of nearly $16 million in federal farm subsidies between 1995 and 2020, according to updated data from EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database.

The total includes $1.3 million that went to 11 members from the Trump administration’s Market Facilitation Program, or MFP, launched in 2019 to help farmers hurt by the administration’s trade war with China.

No lawmakers received funds from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, created to help farmers through the Covid-19 pandemic. For the complete list of subsidy and MFP recipients, click here.

The data are drawn from Department of Agriculture subsidy records, MFP records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and additional information from the members’ public financial disclosures, and are through June 30, 2020. Some members’ disclosures say how much of their family’s farm operation they control, but in other cases that information was not available.

The biggest windfall from taxpayers’ pocketbooks went to the family of Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), who received nearly $5.5 million in commodity subsidies for rice and wheat. LaMalfa holds a third of the family’s farm partnership, making his share almost $1.8 million.

Rep. LaMalfa is one of 13 congressional recipients who sit on the House or Senate Agriculture Committee, which determine the amount and distribution of farm subsidies. The LaMalfa farm partnership also received more than $54,000 in MFP payments.

The second-largest congressional recipient was the family of Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Her father, mother, brother and sister-in-law received more than $3.4 million in subsidies for corn, soybeans, wheat and oats, and her brother and sister-in-law received a total of $750,000 in MFP payments.

According to her publicly disclosed financial records, Sen. Loeffler has financial interests in her family’s farm operation, and she has received thousands of dollars in income in land rental from the farm. The records do not say what share of the farm she holds.

Other congressional recipients whose families or the member received nearly or more than $1 million in commodity subsidies, disaster payments and/or MFP payments were:

  • Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who individually and through his businesses received more than $1.1 million in commodity subsidies and disaster payments, and $116,041 in MFP payments. Sen. Braun’s share of the commodity subsidies and disaster payments was more than $726,373.
  • Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), a member of the House Agriculture Committee, whose family received more than $1.1 million in commodity subsidies and disaster payments, and more than $228,000 in MFP payments. Rep. Hartzler’s share of the commodity subsidies and disaster payments was almost $987,000.

Six other lawmakers – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.), Rep. Devin Nunes (R.-Calif.), Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) – or their families received between $100,000 and about $400,000 in subsidies and/or MFP payments. Sens. Grassley and Fischer and Rep. Abraham are members of their respective chambers’ agriculture committees, and Sen. Grassley is chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

All but one of the lawmakers who received commodity subsidies are also eligible for crop insurance subsidies and a host of other farm welfare programs. But because those other subsidies are not disclosed to the public, it’s not possible to determine whether some legislators are “double dipping.”

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