By Hannah Packman, NFU Communications Director
According to new analysis published this week by NBC News, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has disproportionately helped certain kinds of farmers more than others with its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
The publication asserts that the agency “favored large, industrialized farms over smaller, diversified ones, provided loopholes for corporate farms and sent sizable payments to foreign-owned operations.” Specifically, it found that:
- the top 10 percent of recipients have pocketed more than 60 percent of assistance distributed so far, with payments averaging $95,000
- the bottom 10 percent has received 0.26 percent of assistance, with payments averaging $300
- 2,300 farms received more than the $250,000 payment limit
- six farms received more than $1 million
- 7,000 farms received less than $200
- the lowest-paid farmer received just seven cents
- more than a dozen foreign-owned operations received assistance totaling $3.6 million
- corn, cattle, and dairy collectively claimed 80 percent of the funding
On top of stark disparities in payment rates, some farmers were excluded from the program entirely, either because the crops they grow were not covered, or due to the way payments were calculated.
National Farmers Union (NFU) vice president of advocacy Mike Stranz told NBC News that the oversight may be due to the rushed nature of the program. “If USDA had had a little more time to craft this, maybe it would have shaped up differently,” he said “But Congress was in a hurry, and that put USDA in a difficult position with this program, having to process, understand and evaluate all of the losses that farmers were feeling in this pandemic in just two months.”
The organization continues to urge USDA to pursue solutions to these eligibility issues and ensure that all family farmers and ranchers can access the help they need.
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