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NC Farmers Get $105M To Offset Trade War Loss

Soy farmers have been hit particularly hard by the trade war.
U.S. Department of Agriculture

The tariff war between The White House and Beijing has hurt North Carolina farmers. Even farmers who support President Donald Trump's tactic on trade will say as much.

Now, the federal government is trying to make impacted farmers whole.

Even though the payments haven't fully supplemented what she lost from tariffs, soybean farmer Delano Cox continues to support the president.

"What we have gotten back is nothing like what we have lost. But we're OK with it, because we think President Trump is going to fix what has been broken for years and years and years," said Cox, of Cox Brothers Farms in Union County. "We will probably have one year of suffering because of it, but we hope after this it will be much better. And we have all the confidence in the world in our president."

The paymentscome from the first Market Facilitation Program (MFP) instituted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In the interactive chart below, scroll over the map to see disbursements by county, or choose any North Carolina county from the bottom left dropdown menu to see a breakdown of farms by county in the state.

The USDA estimated Chinese retaliatory tariffs enacted last year caused roughly $11 billion in damages to U.S. farmers. The government provided up to $12 billion − mainly in the form of direct payments to farmers − to offset those impacts from October 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019.

Cox Brothers Farms received $633,000, more than any other farm in North Carolina, according to USDA data compiled by the Associated Press. Statewide, more than 3,000 farms received a combined $105 million. That ranks North Carolina 19th in the nation, as farmers in Midwest states received more in total payments. Farmers in Illinois, for example, received more than $1.1 billion in total. Five states, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Indiana, accounted for nearly half of the payments.

Other nationwide findings:

  • 82.6% of the money - $7.06 billion - went to 415,791 soybean farmers. The second most subsidized commodity was cotton, which accounted for about 5.6% of all money.
  • Despite the payment caps, 3,088 recipients were paid over the cap -- with one producer getting nearly $1 million. Another farm partnership that operates under multiple USDA ID numbers was paid a total of $2.78 million. The USDA says all these payments over the cap were legal; business operations can get more than the stated maximum (all 3,088 are classified as business farm producers), but individual farmers can not.
  • Although overpayments happened all over the nation, Mississippi and Arizona stood out as having a substantially bigger proportion of overpayments. Both those states have a large share of business-owned farms.
  • Although a large number of applications came from corn or wheat producers, they ended up receiving far less money because their crop prices weren't as impacted. Soybean farmers received a median payment of $6,438 and an average payment of $16,975. The median and average payments for corn and wheat were $152/$385 and $448/$1,638, respectively.
  • The majority of the money went to individuals in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Indiana.
  • Altogether, 60% of the money went to individuals, although there were five states (Nevada, Arizona, Connecticut, Utah and Mississippi) where more than 80% of the money went to businesses.
  • 39,311 applicants received less than $100 in total. Of these applicants, 4,918 received less than $10.

Jason deBruyn is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Digital News, a position he took in 2024. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016 as a reporter.
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