Who got Trump’s farm bailouts?
Donald Trump loves farmers. We know this because he says so. “Farmers, I LOVE YOU!” he declared in December.
But he’s been “loving” them to death, with policies that are causing farm prices to tumble, miring our ag economy in the ditch and creating a rising tsunami of farm bankruptcies.
Then came Trump’s doofus of an ag secretary, Sonny Perdue, who publicly insulted farmers by branding them “whiners” for daring to complain about policies causing them to lose income and their farms.
So, as an “I love you” make-up gesture, Trump has been sending big bouquets of money to some of his beloved farmers.
Lots of it — $28 billion so far in what he cynically (and comically) calls a “Market Facilitation Program,” otherwise known as a taxpayer bailout.
But Trump Love turns out to be highly selective, with more than half of the government payments going to the biggest farm owners.
The Agriculture Department initially announced a $125,000 limit on the amount any one farm could get, but every Trump deal seems to have a gimmick in it to give a special break to the slickest operators.
The slickum in this deal is that assorted members of a family are allowed to claim that they’re owners of the same farm and thus get bailout bucks — even if they do no actual farming and live in New York City!
One Missouri farm family, for example, got $2.8 million worth of subsidy love from Trump, and more than 80 families topped half-a-million in payments.
Meanwhile, the great majority of farmers have gotten zilch from Donald the Dealmaker — and 80 percent of eligible grain farmers (the smaller producers most endangered by his bad policies) have received less than $5,000.
So Trump’s “market facilitation” is squeezing the many who are most in need, while helping a few of the largest get even bigger.
Where’s the beef in NAFTA 2.0?
“MAGA,” blusters Trump — Make America Great Again!
America’s ranching families, however, would like Trump to come off his high horse and get serious about a more modest goal, namely: Make America COOL Again.
COOL stands for Country-of-Origin-Labeling, a straightforward law simply requiring that agribusiness giants put labels on packages of steak, pork chops and other products to tell us whether the meat came from the United States, China, Brazil or wherever else in the world.
This useful information empowers consumers to decide where their families’ food dollars go. But multinational powerhouses like Tyson Foods and Cargill don’t want you and me making such decisions.
In 2012, the meat monopolists got the World Trade Organization to decree that our nation’s COOL law violated global trade rules — and our corporate-submissive congress critters meekly repealed the law.
Then came Donald Trump and his Made-in-America campaign, promising struggling ranchers that he’d restore the COOL label as a centerpiece of his new NAFTA deal. Ranching families cheered because getting that “American Made” brand on their products would mean more sales and better prices.
But wait — Trump has now issued his new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and — where’s the beef? In the grandiose, 1,809-page document, COOL is not even mentioned once.
Worse, it slaps America’s hard-hit ranching families in the face, because it allows multinational meatpackers to keep shipping foreign beef into the U.S. market that doesn’t meet our own food safety standards. Aside from the “yuck” factor and health issues, this gives Tyson and other giants an incentive to abandon U.S. ranchers entirely.
To stand with America’s farm and ranch families against their betrayal by Trump and the Big Food monopolists, contact the National Farmers Union: NFU.org.
Jim Hightower is an OtherWords columnist, radio commentator, writer and public speaker.