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Why farm bailouts may cause the next Dust Bowl

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

Story at-a-glance -

  • In 2019, the government authorized the USDA to provide up to $14.5 billion to farmers and ranchers whose commodities were impacted by “unjustified foreign retaliatory tariffs” that led to a loss of export markets
  • The Market Facilitation Program (MFP) is available to producers of certain commodities, including wheat, cotton, corn and soybeans, with an average adjusted gross income of less than $900,000
  • Thousands of people living in large cities received MFP payments, and 54% of MFP payments from 2018 through April 2019 went to the top one-tenth of recipients
  • Farm subsidies promote the planting of annual monocrops that could lead to another Dust Bowl
  • While there are supposed to be caps of $125,000 on MFP payments, rules allow relatives to also receive farm payments, even if they’re not meaningfully involved in farming
  • The top receiving farm, DeLine Farm Partnership in Charleston, Missouri, received $2.8 million in MFP payments while, in all, 82 farms received more than $500,000 in MFP funds

On their surface, farm subsidies, which are government funds given to farmers to help offset bad weather, price fluctuations and other risks to crops, seem like a reasonable use of taxpayer money. And many people probably assume that farm subsidies are helping to support farmers who truly need them, such as those whom you may meet at your local farmers market.

The reality, however, is much more sordid. Since the 1970s, farm policies have favored the consolidation and industrialization of agriculture and the food supply. Federal farm subsidies, tax credits, crop insurance, price supports and disaster payments favor industrial agriculture and the streamlined production of cheap food.

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