The gush of funds has accelerated in recent weeks as the president looks to help his core supporters who have been hit hard by the double whammy of his combative trade practices and the coronavirus pandemic. According to the American Farm Bureau, debt in the farm sector is projected to increase by 4 percent to a record $434 billion this year and farm bankruptcies have continued to rise across the country.
Farmers are not the only constituency benefiting from the president’s largess: He has promised $200 prescription drug cards to millions of seniors, approved $13 billion in aid to Puerto Rico, which could help his prospects in Florida, and he directed his Agriculture Department include letters signed by him in millions of food aid boxes that are being distributed to the poor.
But few have gotten more help than the agriculture sector, which this year is expected to receive the largest government contribution to farm income since its previous record in 2005, according to the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute. The breadth of the payments means that government support will account for about 40 percent of total farm income this year. If not for those subsidies, U.S. farm income would be poised to decline in 2020.
“There are both economic and political motivations for these payments,” said Patrick Westhoff, who directs University of Missouri’s agriculture research center.