As U.S. farmers struggled mightily under new tariffs impacting Chinese exports, the American government promised to deliver help in the form of farm bailouts that we counteract the protectionist market activity.
Now, new reporting shows that most of those bailout funds have gone to bigger producers.
EWG scrutinized Department of Agriculture data on the federal Market Facilitation Program or MFP, finding that the program paid out $8.4 billion as of the month of April.
A Freedom of Information Act request allowed EWG to evaluate where that money went.
Here’s some of what they found.
First, more than half of all MFP payments movement went to an elite 1/10 of all qualifying farmers.
In terms of monetary value, they found that 82 farms have gotten more than $500,000 in MFP payments, and that one farm received a staggering sum of $2.8 million!
On the bottom side, thousands of smaller farmers received amounts like $5000.
Letting alone the fact that if any other administration had proposed subsidizing farms while cutting into free-market exports, there would’ve been a resounding hue and cry, we now know that even with this financial assistance, big ag has tilted the playing field in their favor.
EWG also reports that in coming rounds of MFP payments, the monetary amounts will be linked to acreage and not production, so that large landowners will fare better than small family farms.
In addition to the MFP, market insiders report that crop insurance plans also favor the largest and wealthiest farmers.
First, if we listen to farmers, we know that they would rather have advantageous markets than a cash bailout. But we also now know that they’re not even getting the cash assistance they need.
We reported previously on how programs like the National Organic Program are tilted towards big producers. With the current federal funding for farms also slanted toward big ag, family farmers are truly left out in the cold.
That’s just the beginning – we’re going to continue to document all of the challenges faced by small, local, sustainable producers who want to practice regenerative farming and benefit their communities with natural farming practices.
Direct to table sales and regenerative farming are a big value to our economy and our environment – but if they cannot compete with enormous and enormously profitable corporations flooding the market with cheap goods, these farms will close one by one, until what we’re left with is a highly mechanized and toxic food production and delivery system.
U.S. Farms Going Out of Business
It doesn’t take much digging to see evidence of widespread farm bankruptcies and struggling small producers re-engineering their farms by dropping operations to stay in business.
Just look at Wisconsin, the state which led the nation in farm bankruptcies three years running in 2018.
Dairy herds are being auctioned off at a furious rate – and the farmers who aren’t closing down entirely are getting out of the dairy business. They just can’t make money at it.
Here’s a detailed example posted at Civil Eats about how a Wisconsin dairy farm that enjoyed decent profits in decades past is now shutting its doors. You can see how pricing, markets and policy have changed, and how the government, by refusing to support natural local production, is shutting the door on family farms.
Get involved! At GTKYF Foundation Inc, we are active in working with small, local family farms to keep them open. We have an advocacy line for struggling farmers and resources to help them to go sustainable to drive direct to consumer models that work. Join us in celebrating our national heritage of natural small farm production and taking the fight to big ag conglomerates that want to leave us with nothing but the bottom of the barrel.