Nine U.S. Senators led by Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow are sharing concern over U.S. trade aid going to foreign companies. With the administration using up to $1.4 billion to purchase commodities, the group says the Department of Agriculture is allowing foreign companies to profit from the plan aimed to assist U.S. farmers. Stabenow, the top Democrat of the Senate Ag Committee, points out the first round of trade aid included purchase contracts of nearly $62.5 million in pork products from JBS USA, which is owned by Brazilian parent company JBS SA. A letter to USDA from the Senators calls the move “counterproductive,” adding its “unacceptable that American taxpayers have been subsidizing competitors through trade assistance.”
The letter was signed by all Democrats, including Senator Stabenow, along with Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, Vermont’s Patrick Leahy, Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal, Washington’s Patty Murray, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar, and Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin. Baldwin questioned the funding last week in a standalone statement following the announcement of the trade aid program.