Rep. Kind calls out USDA Secretary Perdue for ignoring Wisconsin farmers by trade aid going to largest farmers

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wisconsin, calls for ending trade disputes with China, Mexico and other trading partners Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at farm in Bangor, Wisconsin.

In a letter to Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue, Rep. Ron Kind demanded changes to how the USDA distributes aid to farmers impacted by the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China. 

The study found that the top 1% of large farms received an average of $183,331 in trade aid, while the bottom 80% received under $5,000, on average. Additionally, 82 large farms received more than $500,000 and 95% of all payments went to the top 50% of farms. The report also found that over $38 million in payments were sent to those living in large U.S. cities, including Washington, DC, New York City, and San Francisco.

"With farms of all sizes facing these trade headwinds, I am concerned that the allocation of resources disproportionately benefited the largest farming operations in the country," Kind said in the letter. "According to your own agency, the trade aid package was intended to provide short term relief to farmers impacted by retaliatory trade actions to the President's tariffs."

US Rep. Ron Kind

Kind pointed to the "reckless tariffs implemented by the Administration" which has resulted in China stopping buying products from Wisconsin farmers like soy, corn, dairy products and cranberries.

“Wisconsin farmers and their families are being forced to bear the brunt of this Administration’s ongoing trade war with China," Kind said. “Now, when our farmers so desperately need the relief promised, we find out that the USDA is just lining the pockets of the largest farms, while our family farms in Wisconsin have received next to nothing. Secretary Perdue needs to make changes to his flawed distribution plans immediately so that those who need the aid the most are the ones actually receiving it.”

Wisconsin agricultural exports to China fell by 25% in the first four months of 2019, according to a press release from Kind's office.

In the letter, Rep. Kind asked Perdue to outline what changes the USDA would be making to ensure that the second trade aid package is effectively spending taxpayer dollars and ensure the payments will be provided solely to farmers facing the current difficult trade environment to export their products abroad.  

"Protecting farmers throughout the country requires a shared commitment from both your agency and Congress," said Kind in the letter.

Carol Spaeth-Bauer at 262-875-9490 or carol.spaeth-bauer@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter at cspaethbauer or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/carol.spaethbauer.