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Farm payments doubled during subsidy flood, says EWG

The government paid a record $41.6 billion in a variety of subsidies to farmers in 2020, double the amount they received in 2018, when the Trump-era cash gusher began flowing, said the Environmental Working Group on Wednesday. It calculated that farmers received a combined $91.6 billion in 2018, 2019, and 2020 from crop insurance, traditional crop supports, trade war assistance, and pandemic relief.

Multiple “payments … often compensated farmers for the same decrease in crop prices. The lion’s share of the payments flowed to the largest subsidy recipients,” said the EWG, which maintains a database to track subsidies. “For example, the top 10% of recipients of the Market Facilitation Program, or MFP — created to offset Trump’s trade war with China — received almost 60%of all MFP funding in 2018 and 2019.”

The subsidies were linked to a farm’s production, so the largest operators got the largest sums.

“Congress should also reject calls for more subsidies and increase the transparency of farm subsidy programs and the crop insurance program,” said the EWG. It said lawmakers should deny premium subsidies to high-income operators. Taxpayers cover 62 cents of each dollar in crop insurance premiums.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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