Government payments to farmers have surged to historic levels under President Donald Trump as the Agriculture Department floods the industry with cash to stem the financial losses from Trump’s tariff fights and the coronavirus pandemic. But as agriculture grows more reliant on unprecedented taxpayer support, farm policy experts and watchdog groups warn the subsidies are growing too big and too fast, with no strings attached and little oversight from Congress — and that Washington could have a difficult time shutting off the spigot.
Total meat exports by state (2017). US Census Bureau export data. Total US $16.4 billion. DATASOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau. WIDGET: factgraphs.org
Soybean prices (2014-2020). Monthly soybean prices in US$ per bushel. DATASOURCE: Macrotrends. WIDGET: factgraphs.org
The problem wasn’t that the Fed ended quantitative easing [in 2014], it was that the Fed began quantitative easing in the first place. During QE, not only were commodity prices pushed up, but borrowing costs were dirt cheap. It made sense during the time for farmers to borrow heavily to binge on land and equipment, in order to meet the “demand” for soybeans or other goods that was being signaled to them by higher prices.