New York Times says Wisconsin farmers among top beneficiaries of Trump aid

    CAMBRIDGE, WI - APRIL 25: Cows walk from a barn after being milked on Hinchley's Dairy Farm on April 25, 2017 near Cambridge, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
    CAMBRIDGE, WI - APRIL 25: Cows walk from a barn after being milked on Hinchley's Dairy Farm on April 25, 2017 near Cambridge, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

    A  front-page story in the print edition of The New York Times on Monday reports that Wisconsin has received more farm aid from the half-billion dollars doled out through a federal government emergency relief program than all but two states.

    Sarah Lloyd of the Wisconsin Farmers Union

    The article is accompanied by a photo of Sarah Lloyd, a Wisconsin dairy farmer, Farmers Union official and Examiner contributor who told the Times “we are just hemorrhaging money.”

    The coronavirus pandemic, Lloyd adds, “is just another punch to the gut.”

    The Times, which does not mention that Wisconsin leads the nation in farm bankruptcies, connects the Trump administration’s farm aid program to Trump’s 2020 re-election effort.

    “Several experts said the payment formulas might favor dairy farmers in states like Wisconsin, where the outcome in the presidential race could turn on razor-edge margins.” the article states.

    Farmers in Georgia, the home state of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue, were paid more per acre than farmers anywhere else in the nation in 2019, according to a study cited by the Times.

    “The Trump administration’s $28 billion effort in 2018 and 2019 to compensate farmers for losses from its trade wars has been criticized as excessive, devised on the fly, and tilted toward states important to Republicans,” the article reports. It quotes Democrats in Congress and a representative from the consumer advocacy group Food and Water Watch who fear that the next round of pandemic relief lacks oversight and will be doled out in an effort to buy votes for Trump.

    Lloyd, a member of Our Wisconsin Revolution who supported Bernie Sanders in 2016, says there is more to the story. Part of what she told the Times, which didn’t make it into the article, she said, is that “farmers would like to get a fair price from the market and not a government hand out.” 

     “A long-term solution to the issues in the commodity markets would be to set up policy that matches supply with actual demand,” Lloyd adds. “Farmers would have a better chance of getting a fair price and it could reduce the need for government bailouts. A win-win situation. There is a growing national movement of farmers that are agitating and advocating for this policy of supply management. This is being coordinated by the Wisconsin Farmers Union.”

    If people are interested in learning more, she says, they can check out dairytogether.com.

    Ruth Conniff
    Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine, and opened the Progressive’s office in Washington, DC, during the Clinton Administration, where she made her debut as a political pundit on CNN’s Capital Gang Sunday and Fox News. She moved to Oaxaca, Mexico, for a year in 2017, where she covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Donald Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on All in with Chris Hayes on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, and other radio and television programs. In 2011, she did award-winning coverage of the uprising against Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Conniff graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal.