Dem Requests Govt Accountability Office Investigation

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Farming has always been an honorable way to earn a living. People used to be able to make enough on 80 acres of land with a herd of cattle to provide a moderate lifestyle. Yet, year after year the prices for what hey raised dropped until farming no longer was even feasible.

Wheat sold for $20-$30 a bushel in after World War I, adjusted for inflation. By 1985, it sold for $8 to $15. Now, it goes for $5 to $10 a bushel, usually closer to $5. No wonder a whole rash of farmers has given up.

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Source: Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Why did this occur? Wheat began to have more and more people between the harvest and the end product. The cost of a loaf of bread in 1920 was $1.16. In 1985, it cost $.60, and in 2020 the least expensive ran about $2.50 all adjusted for inflation and grew less healthy by the year.

That gave farmers the ability to protect against bad weather years, buy and sell livestock, and live a free, independent life. Then, to add more disaster to their business, Donald Trump blew in a tariff war with many farmers’ best export market: China.

Stories of farmers going bankrupt after generations of harvesting the land began rolling into the office of Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). As the leading Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, she requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) open an investigation. Trump had a program to help farmers compensate for his abysmal tariff war with China, but something was seriously wrong.

Stabenow was concerned about the administration’s aid distribution. It was based upon political considerations, with higher levels of aid packages going to Trump-friendly states and foreign investors. The senator questioned the USDA’s dispensation methods regarding fraud, waste, and abuse.

The GAO is a nonpartisan auditing agency. Stabenow said, according to The Hill:

‘It’s clear that the Trump Administration’s trade assistance payments pick winners and losers rather than help the farmers who have been hit the hardest by this president’s trade policies. This investigation will shed more light on what has been happening, and bring accountability and fairness to a program that has spent billions of taxpayer dollars.’

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Source: Senator Debbie Stabenow.

The White House implemented the program, which is named the Market Facilitation Program, in August of 2018, just as a trade war with China began to raise its ugly head. One of the farmers’ leading crops was soybeans, but when Trump added the tariffs, the Chinese sought out other sellers.

The Agriculture Department (USDA) pledged $12 billion in aid in 2018 and $14.5 billion in 2019. A study found that 40 percent of farm incomes were based upon aid in some form.

Stabenow raised concerns that the aid distribution was being decided by political considerations, with larger payouts going to Trump-voting red states in the South. She also had questions over whether USDA’s methods for dispersing aid were preventing waste, fraud, and abuse.

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Source: Senator Debbie Stabenow.

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