The Department of Agriculture overpaid US corn farmers in 2019 by around US$3 billion for impacts from former President Trump’s trade policies, according to Reuters.
This was in part because the agency over-estimated the value of their lost export business, according to a non-partisan government agency report released Monday.
The Market Facilitation Program in 2018 and 2019 distributed $23 billion in payments to farmers under the USDA’s Farm Service Agency to help offset the heavy blows farmers faced in the wake of Trump’s trade war with China and other top export markets.
Payments to corn farmers were approximately $3 billion more than USDA’s final estimated damages from the trade war, while soybean, sorghum, and cotton farmers received less than the estimated trade damage, the report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) found.
The GAO recommended that USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) be more transparent in its methodology process, as well as revise its processes for assessing the baselines by which farmers are granted aid.
“The role of USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist is to provide data-driven analysis. They did that,” a USDA spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters. “What happened from that point on was in the hands of President Trump’s political appointees.”