Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Democrats wary of aid to farmers being a political tool

As the Department of Agriculture begins distributing $16 billion in direct payments to farmers hurt by the pandemic, many are "raising questions about how the money will be allocated and whether there is sufficient oversight to guard against partisan abuse of the program," Sharon LaFraniere reports for The New York Times. "Months before an election in which some farm states are major battlegrounds, Democrats and other critics of the administration’s agriculture policies are expressing concern that the new subsidies, provided by Congress with bipartisan backing, could be doled out to ensure President Trump continues to win the backing of one of his key voting blocs.

Their worries are based on how the administration distributed $28 billion over the past two years on direct aid to farmers hurt by the trade war with China and lousy weather. Farmers, their lobbying groups, politicians and others have criticized the administration for distributing such funds unequally, saying the program was "excessive, devised on the fly and tilted toward states politically important to Republicans," LaFraniere reports. "Polls suggest that farmers are strongly united in supporting Trump. They are important voting blocs in key swing states like Wisconsin, vital in some states like Iowa that he is fighting to hold, and a core constituency in many other solidly Republican states across the Midwest and South."

Farmers have increasingly relied on federal aid over the past few years; direct federal payments made up an estimated 24 percent of all farm income in 2019.

No comments: