President Donald Trump was obviously trying to rally his rural base when, on Tuesday, he tweeted that the United States’ “great Patriot Farmers will be one of the biggest beneficiaries” of his trade policy. But the Trump Administration, according to a report by the New York Daily News’ Chris Sommerfeldt, wasn’t doing the American farming industry any favor when it diverted $62 million that had been earmarked for struggling U.S. farmers to a company owned by two Brazilian brothers who have faced criminal investigation from both Brazilian and U.S. authorities.
The money went to JBS USA, a Colorado-based subsidiary of the Brazilian meatpacking company JBS SA, which is owned by Brazilian brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista. In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture signed a contract to purchase pork products from plants operated by JBS USA, and the New York Daily News’ Sommerfeldt reports that the Trump Administration has since agreed to “two more bailouts to JBS, even as Trump’s own Justice Department began investigating the meatpacker.”
Joesley and Wesley Batista have admitted to bribing hundreds of officials in Brazil, and according to Reuters, the U.S Department of Justice interviewed them in Brazil in December 2018 as part of its own investigation for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. But even so, the Daily News reports, “Trump’s Agriculture Department issued $14.5 million in bailout cash for pork products from JBS in February and another $25.6 million earlier this month, totaling more than $62.4 million, according to the purchase reports.”