Millions In Farm Bailout Money Went To Shady Foreign Firms

Mark WilsonGetty Images

Hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for struggling farmers in the United States was given by the Trump administration to a grain supplier owned by a Japanese company with a history of shady dealings, New York Daily News reports. According to federal records, this is the second time a foreign-controlled enterprise has managed to get its hands on bailout funds of this kind.

In this case, More than $200,000 was given to Columbia Grain International, a subsidiary of Japanese trading giant Marubeni. Columbia Grain International is located in Oregon.

Two separate taxpayer-funded bailout contracts were provided in February from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the context of the yellow and green split pea market. The combined value of the contract was $203,000, per previously unrevealed purchase reports viewed by The NY Daily News.

The bailout funds were released, even though Marubeni is notorious for underhanded dealings. The U.S. Department of Justice, in fact, has prosecuted the company for criminal violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That action ultimately led to the company being forced to pay more than $140 million in fines, according to court reports.

The payment made to Columbia Grain came as part of the larger $1.2 billion bailout program which President Donald Trump introduced last year to help struggling American farmers who found themselves unable to sell their crops due to the escalating trade disputes between the U.S. and China, among others.

In a similar situation, JBS USA, a Colorado-based subsidiary of Brazil’s JBS SA, which is the largest meatpacker in the world, has similarly taken substantial bailout funds despite being not only a foreign entity, but one with a checkered past. JBS received at least $62 million in bailout cash from the same source of funding as Columbia Grain. The company is controlled by Joesley and Wesley Batista, Brazilian brothers who are known to have bribed hundreds of government officials in their home country.

Democrats in Congress have expressed outrage at the transactions.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, who first called on Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to reverse the JBS bailouts, has now attacked the Columbia Grain payouts, calling them “appalling.”

“There is no excuse for the Trump administration’s rampant waste of taxpayer dollars,” the Connecticut Democrat said on Friday. “It’s no surprise that additional egregious examples have come to light. Secretary Perdue’s seeming insouciance betrays the fact that his agency has the power to prevent such an egregious misallocation of taxpayer dollars.”