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Big Farms Find Easy Ways Around Trump Trade Aid Limits - ABI

When President Donald Trump’s administration announced a $12 billion aid package for farmers struggling under the financial strain of his trade dispute with China, the payments were capped. But many large farming operations had no trouble finding legal ways around them, the Associated Press reported. The government paid out nearly $2.8 million to a Missouri soybean-growing operation registered as three entities at the same address. More than $900,000 went to five other farm businesses, in Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee and two in Texas. Three other farming operations collected more than $800,000. Sixteen more collected over $700,000, and more than 3,000 recipients collected more than the $125,000 cap. Recipients who spoke to AP defended the payouts, saying they didn’t cover their losses from the trade war, and they were legally entitled to them. U.S. Department of Agriculture rules let farms file claims for multiple family members or other partners who meet the department’s definition of being “actively engaged in farming.” But critics including Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican who has long fought for subsidy limits, say it is the latest example of how loopholes in federal farm subsidy programs allow large farms to collect far more than the supposed caps on that aid. Grassley said that some of the nation’s largest farms are receiving huge subsidies “through underhanded legal tricks. They’re getting richer off the backs of taxpayers while young and beginning farmers are priced out of the profession. This needs to end. The Department of Agriculture needs to re-evaluate its rules for awarding federal funds and conduct more thorough oversight of where it’s funneling taxpayer dollars.” USDA officials defended the program, saying they believe its rules are being followed and that the department has procedures in place to audit recipients.

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