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GAO Launches Stabenow-Requested Investigation into USDA Trade Aid

Following Ranking Member Stabenow’s request, the GAO will investigate the integrity of the Trump Administration’s aid to farmers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, announced the Government Accountability Office (GAO) opened an investigation into the integrity of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aid to farmers affected by the Trump Administration’s trade policies.

“It’s clear that the Trump Administration’s trade assistance payments pick winners and losers rather than help the farmers who have been hit the hardest by this President’s trade policies,” said Ranking Member Stabenow. “This investigation will shed more light on what has been happening, and bring accountability and fairness to a program that has spent billions of taxpayer dollars.”

In January, Stabenow requested a comprehensive GAO investigation of the trade assistance program. The investigation opened by the GAO will examine:

  • Whether the model USDA used to distribute payments has accurately reflected trade damages felt by farmers;
  • How higher payment limits have increased payments to large complex farm operations;
  • Whether USDA is effectively preventing fraud, waste and abuse in the program.

Stabenow has consistently raised strong concerns around the equity and integrity of the Trump Administration’s Market Facilitation Program payments. In November, Stabenow released a comprehensive report and sent a letter to the USDA detailing concerns that the Trump Administration distributed trade aid unevenly across the country, benefiting regions and farms that have experienced less trade damage. The Administration has ignored suggested improvements and doubled down on its flawed approach that picks winners and losers.