At an event announcing $16 billion in federal relief for food producers on May 19, Donald Trump spoke at a podium flanked by tables stacked with corn, onions, apples, and other fruits and vegetables. “The American farmer is the backbone of our country,” Trump said. “There’s no president that’s treated the farmers like Trump.” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue briefly donned, and then removed, an American flag face mask.
Farmers who’ve suffered large losses due to price drops and market disruptions from the Covid-19 lockdown will certainly welcome the federal funds. But to critics who track the U.S. agricultural industry’s massive environmental footprint, the produce stage props seemed disingenuous: The stimulus will prop up a U.S. agricultural system in which more than two-thirds of crops become animal feed. The ultimate winners will be industrial meat companies like Cargill and Tyson. That’s disastrous news for the climate.