Trump administration gives crooked Brazilian meatpacker another taxpayer-funded bailout despite bipartisan outrage

Trump administration gives crooked Brazilian meatpacker another taxpayer-funded bailout despite bipartisan outrage



JAN 10, 2020 | 3:21 PM

President Trump announces a $16 billion bailout package for farmers and ranchers with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue (third left) at the White House in May. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Bucking mounting bipartisan outrage, the Trump administration this week issued another bailout to a Brazilian-owned meatpacker with a long history of corruption — meaning the shady foreign firm has now received more than $100 million in taxpayer cash meant for struggling American farmers.

JBS USA, a Colorado-based subsidiary of Brazilian meatpacking giant JBS SA, was given the latest bailout contract from the Agriculture Department on Thursday, raking in $10.8 million for nearly 6.5 million pounds of pork, according to a procurement order.

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As first reported by the Daily News, JBS USA received at least four similar contracts last year, making it the single biggest beneficiary of President Trump’s farm bailout program, which was drawn up to alleviate financial burdens of American agricultural producers struggling to make ends meet because of the administration’s tariff-heavy trade war with China.

Accounting for the latest contract, JBS USA has received at least $100.8 million in farm bailouts, according to a previously undisclosed Agriculture Department document reviewed by The News.

The taxpayer-funded bailout program — which Trump replenished with $16 billion in May after the first $8.6 billion ran out — is designed to buy up excess products that farmers aren’t able to sell because of the trade war and then distribute those goods to domestic food programs.

Members of Congress from both sides of aisle have shredded the administration’s payments to JBS, questioning how subsidizing a foreign-owned company helps American farmers.

Adding to such concerns, JBS SA remains, via a holding company, under the control of Wesley and Joesley Batista, a couple of notoriously corrupt Brazilian brothers who have spent time in jail and admitted to bribing hundreds of government officials in their home country. The Batistas’ business dealings are also under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department over potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) called on the Treasury Department in October to open a formal review of JBS’ 2007 foray into the U.S. after they discovered it was likely made possible due to massive bank loans obtained through criminal means.

Since that demand, a 107-page report from Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies has been turned over to the Justice Department concluding there’s “robust” evidence that the founding of JBS USA was in large part based on a $1.3 billion loan facilitated by bribes the Batistas issued to government officials.

Menendez, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s top Democrat, was outraged Friday in light of the latest JBS bailout and said the Trump administration’s relationship with the “rotten” company defies logic.

“JBS SA bought its way into the U.S. market with the ill-gotten proceeds from one of the largest bribery scandals in Brazilian history,” Menendez told The News. "I will continue to press the Trump administration for answers as to how this makes any sense.”