U.S. trade aid mainly benefited large farms in its latest round, undermining a key pledge by the Trump administration and leaving family producers at risk of collapse as the economy entered a recession.

President Donald Trump said the bailout program he rolled out in 2018 would help family farms weather his trade war with China, mostly through direct payments from the government. But roughly two-thirds of those payments went to the top 10% of recipients at the beginning of the year, according to an analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture records obtained by CNBC through the Freedom of Information Act.

The top half of recipients collected 95% of total payments in the $28 billion Market Facilitation Program, which came after retaliatory actions against the Trump administration led to steep drops in demand for U.S. agriculture. The average payment for the top tenth of recipients was $164,813, a stark contrast from the average payment of $2,469.49 for the bottom half of recipients. The data included payments made throughout February and March, when the most recent tranche began to hit bank accounts.


Back to Latest