WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Midwest lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are calling for reform after a new report from a nonpartisan government watchdog found some farmers got a disproportionate share of the $23 billion relief program designed to help during the trade war with China.
The Government Accountability Office found Southern and large farms benefited the most.
“Peanuts and rice and cotton coming out better than corn, soybeans and wheat,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, listed.
He said farmers in his state are getting the short end of the stick again.
“I’m not surprised by it and I continue to be irritated by it,” he said. “This is just another reason why we need to bring more equity to Midwestern agriculture.”
Democrats say the problem runs deeper. The report from the GAO found farmers in Georgia received the highest average payments, nearly double the national rate.
“Oh, and it just so happens that Secretary (of Agriculture Sonny) Perdue is from Georgia,” Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., pointed out. “Hmm, what a coincidence.”
She and fellow Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio say the findings are proof the Trump administration can’t be trusted.
“They’re denying there was any hanky-panky there but it’s pretty clear what happened,” Brown said.
Rep. Doug Collins, a Republican from Georgia, said there’s nothing wrong with the way the system is working.
“It’s reflection of our (Georgia’s) growing agricultural economy, the things I have fought for,” he said. “Secretary Purdue is actually fighting for all of the farmers, and again, I think this is a political year issue to tarnish at the president.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture called the GAO report misleading but said the agency welcomes feedback from Congress to improve the program.