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The fallout from the trade war with China and the Trump administration’s spending to maintain farmers’ creditworthiness amid a commodity price slump has propelled federal farm subsidy payments in Arkansas to a record $ 828 million. dollars in 2019.

The total for 2019, the latest year for which full data is available, nearly doubled the $ 441 million recorded in 2018; Arkansas’ total in 2017 was $ 493 million. Nationally, total agricultural subsidies increased from over $ 4 billion in 2017 to $ 20 billion in 2019.

Payments to farms affected by former President Donald Trump’s unilateral tariffs and Chinese retaliation have exploded in 2018 and 2019 and will tend to decline, according to industry experts like Mark Lambert, director of operations and operations. Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Commodity Economics.

The big numbers for 2018 and 2019, as well as aid not yet calculated for 2020, include disaster relief and COVID payments, as well as funds from the Market Facilitation Program to help producers who have lost money. ‘important export markets in the trade skirmish.

“Take it all out and you get grant totals similar to what you saw in 2018,” Lambert said.

Arkansas Business’s list of top recipients of state farm subsidies includes 21 farm businesses that each raised over $ 1 million in grants from the United States Department of Agriculture in 2019. Two Deline Farms based entities in Charleston, Missouri, led the way, farming in Phillips County. Deline Farms Partnership got $ 3.6 million and Deline Farms South received $ 3 million in grants in 2019.

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After Jonesboro’s Delta Peanut at $ 2.8 million and Osceola’s 3m Planting Co. at $ 2 million, Deline Farms North appears in fifth place on the list of grants at $ 1.9 million. “These types of numbers are not unique to Arkansas,” said Andrew Grobmyer, executive vice president of the Arkansas Agricultural Council, a trade group that represents row crop growers. “A depressed commodity market that worsened dramatically in the late 2010s and continued through the pandemic has now rebounded to a point where these payments are likely to decline significantly in the years to come.”

Grobmyer, who thanked the Arkansas Congressional delegation for urging the USDA to come to the rescue, noted that the 2014 Farm Bill ended direct payments helping farmers regardless of economic hardship. , and that much of the money paid to farms recently comes from additional spending adopted to deal with the various crises facing farmers and the nation as a whole.

These days, Grobmyer said, commodity subsidy programs are more risk-based and defensible to a general public who often dislike the role farms play in the country’s food security. “The costs to taxpayers will drop if these stronger market conditions continue, and we certainly hope they will,” said Grobmyer, adding that Congress should consider a permanent pot of ad hoc cash ready for emergencies. .

“No farmer wants to receive a commodity program payment,” said Lambert, the Farm Bureau economist. “They want a good market price to reward their work. “

But when a crisis strikes, the payments help keep the food supply stable by keeping producers on the farm instead of pushing them into bankruptcy forever, Lambert said. “Only very low commodity prices trigger these programs, and farmers must have them to maintain profitability and repay their loans. Remember, farmers buy everything retail and wholesale.

“The costs to taxpayers will drop if these stronger market conditions continue, and we certainly hope they will.”

Vice President, Arkansas Agricultural Council

Agricultural lenders are taking some of the attention away from the farms they lend to after a change in the way the USDA reports subsidies. From 2019, the ministry began identifying grant recipients rather than applicants, including banks and credit institutions that directly receive grants under their agricultural loans. Watch groups have denounced the change, saying it obscures transparency and circumvents taxpayer control.

Arkansas Business created a separate list of lenders who received direct grants for state farms, but there was no way to determine which farms were affiliated with those payments. AgHeritage Farm Credit Services of Little Rock tops the list with $ 31.1 million in grant payments in 2019, followed by Barton’s Farm Credit Midsouth-PCA at $ 21.6 million and Agrifund LLC of Lubbock, Texas, to $ 19.3 million. Farmers & Merchants Bank of Stuttgart and Southern Bancorp Bank of Arkadelphia round out the top five with $ 15.5 million and $ 13.8 million.

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