A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released in January issued some criticism of USDA aid provided to farms for losses caused by international trade disruptions in 2018 and 2019. The Market Facilitation Program (MFP) was administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and distributed $23 billion in payments to farmers with an established payment limit of $250,000. The program was vitally important to U.S. farmers who were injured due to a major trade dispute with China, the leading consumer of U.S. agricultural exports for a wide range of commodities.
Through the report, the GAO made four recommendations, including that FSA issue guidance for future compliance reviews of supplemental assistance programs to (1) design data collection and analysis in a way that ensures reliable results, (2) assess risk characteristics and take a more complete risk-based approach, and (3) communicate results and identify corrective actions. FSA generally agreed with the recommendations.