A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office takes a closer look at the USDA’s 2018 and 2019 Market Facilitation Programs. Combined, the programs provided $23 billion to farmers and ranchers. The way USDA estimated the value of lost exports in 2019 resulted in higher payments and the baseline export values for corn and wheat were inappropriately high. The GAO also said the way USDA distributed the payments meant that there were uneven payments for the same crop. GAO told the USDA to improve their review process and provide greater transparency in future analyses. A USDA spokesperson responded. “When Trump Administration officials created the MFP to compensate for losses farmers and producers incurred due to the failed Trump trade policy, they built the program on a specific formula they selected, which favored certain regions, certain crops, and large operations. It doesn’t require much speculation to suss out their motivations. The role of USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist is to provide data-driven analysis. They did that. What happened from that point on was in the hands of President Trump’s political appointees.”
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