Wednesday, August 28, 2019
By Jim Hightower
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. Our money. 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.
OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker.