WASHINGTON – The US Dept. of Agriculture appears to be ramping up its farmers assistance programs in 2019 as tariff disputes with China continue. According to multiple media reports in the past week, Brazilian-owned JBS USA was granted more than $64 million in subsidies.

USDA numbers reported by the Greeley Tribune show that JBS USA was awarded nine federal contracts since January, which totaled $40.1 million and 18.5 million lbs. of pork. Previously, JBS received contracts for 9.8 million lbs. of pork at $22.3 million from the same program.

JBS USA provided a statement saying the subsidies will benefit their American operations:

“We operate US pork plants, processing American hogs raised by US farmers –  the true program beneficiaries,” the company spokesperson said. “Like other companies in the program, our sole intent for participating is to support US producer prices and help our American producer partners. This is not a bailout. We are paid for the work of our team members in the plant and the products we produce, which are used to support important federal feeding programs that assist US citizens.”

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service did not respond for a comment.

JBS USA beef recently reported $5.01 billion in revenue and pork revenue at $1.34 billion for the first quarter of 2019. 

Large multinational companies have come under scrutiny in recent months when applying for the farmers assistance program. In November, the USDA terminated a $240,000 pork payment with Smithfield Foods, who are owned by Chinese company WH Group, following reporting by The Washington Post and criticism by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.  

The money JBS will receive is from the $12 billion Market Facilitation Program that makes payments to farmers and producers of hogs, soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton and dairy.