Senator Charles Schumer recently urged the USDA to improve its popular Market Facilitation Program (MFP) to better support small New York farmers.
The MFP is designed to reimburse farms that have been damaged by foreign trade wars and has distributed $25 billion in mitigation payments to help farmers recover in recent months.
However, Schumer referenced a recent report that found 95% of the top payment rates have either gone to southern farmers who are less-harmed than other region or farms owned by billionaires and foreign-owned companies.
“This report shows that as Upstate farmers are grappling with extreme uncertainty caused by the chaotic global trade climate, USDA is using a flawed formula that helps big, wealthy farms and billion-dollar foreign-owned companies, while our small and family farms in New York have been left in the dust,” said Senator Schumer. “The USDA must stop picking winners and losers in such an unbalanced way, and instead ensure all of America’s and Upstate New York’s farmers get the help they need and deserve—not just a lucky few.”
According to Schumer, farmers in New York are receiving $41.10 less per acre than farmers in Georgia and other Southern states.
Even within New York, there are significant variances in payments from county to county, which can cause similar farms to get vastly different payments.
Schumer also expressed frustration in the USDA’s doubling of the payment limit for row crop payments from $125,000 to $250,000, which he says will concentrate payments even more in the large complicated farming conglomerates.
Additionally, he says USDA based payments to dairy farmers on data that are 6 to 8 years old
“USDA currently ignores any trade damage not related to its own chaotic trade actions and largely shuts out Upstate New York’s specialty crops from direct assistance,” Schumer said.