While President Trump’s ten-month-long trade war with China has devastated Virginia’s farmers, he tried to cushion the blow last year by giving American farmers $12 billion via a taxpayer-funded bailout program.
But now, ahead of news that Trump wants to extend an additional $20 billion to help undo the very damage he’s causing, the New York Daily News reports that $62 million of the original $12 billion was actually diverted to a meatpacking company owned by corrupt Brazilian brothers.
The Department of Agriculture signed a contract in January to purchase $22.3 million worth of pork from plants operated by JBS USA, a Colorado-based subsidiary of Brazilian company JBS SA, the largest meatpacker in the world.
JBS has since received two additional bailouts of $14.5 million in February, and another $25.6 million in May, bringing the total to $62.4 million, according to a series of purchase reports.
This all comes despite the fact that JBS is owned by two wealthy brothers, Joesley and Wesley Batista, who have spent time in jail over a massive corruption scandal in which they admitted to bribing hundreds of top officials in Brazil. The company is also under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Despite all these red flags and despite the fact that the meatpacking company reported a net income of $273 million for the first quarter of 2019, Trump’s USDA has continued to bail out the company’s plants.
Meanwhile, Trump’s trade war continues to hurt Virginia farmers, some of whom feel as if Trump has turned his back on them.
In response to Trump’s latest escalation, Virginia’s U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine released a statement on Tuesday, blasting Trump’s continuing trade war.
“The escalation means continued uncertainty for Virginia’s soybean farmers, who continue to brace for the worst every time the word ‘tariffs’ is said in the Oval Office,” said the joint statement.
Warner also tweeted about the damage Trump’s trade war is doing to the state’s farmers.
And yet, as Trump digs in, it looks more and more like there’s no end in sight for these farmers.