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Million-dollar payments from USDA¡¯s coronavirus fund

early $6.6 billion in coronavirus aid has been paid to the agricultural sector since the USDA began accepting applications in late May.

A hog producer, Titan Swine, got the largest single payment during the first month of the USDA¡¯s coronavirus relief program ¡ª $1.4 million ¡ª and it received two additional checks, totaling $1.1 million, on the same day, reportedThe Counteron Thursday. The nonprofit news organization said it found five farms that got single payments of significantly more than $750,000 and 13 instances in which multiple entities with the same business address received payments totaling more than $1 million.

¡°While a handful of farmers received hundreds of thousands of dollars, more than 300 received less than $10. Many more have not benefited from the program at all,¡± said The Counter. When the USDA set up the coronavirus program, it said the maximum payment per person or entity would be $250,000. ¡°Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies, or limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits where members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation,¡± said theUSDA.

Multiple payments to the same address indicates ¡°farms who share stakeholders or fall under the same umbrella organization may be receiving multiple payments,¡± said The Counter. ¡°Many were also receiving loans from the Payroll Protection Program, meaning they were able to take advantage of multiple federal income-support programs.¡± As an example, it said five dairies registered to the same address in Georgia received coronavirus payments totaling $1.57 million as well as three PPP loans.

¡°Congress did not put a lot of guardrails on that [coronavirus] money,¡± said Eric Deeble of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, a small-farm advocacy group. The NSAC said farmers who sell directly to consumers through farmers¡¯ markets or local food networks have been slighted by the USDA in the aid program.

Nearly $6.6 billion in coronavirus aid has been paid to the agricultural sector since the USDA began accepting applications in late May.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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