President Donald Trump’s remedy for America’s farmers — flattened by his tariffs, grappling with a dearth of immigrant labor and struggling with a pandemic — is to slash farmworker pay, NPR reports.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is huddling with new White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to figure how to slice wages for foreign guest workers on U.S. farms, sources have told NPR.
As the White House plots to cut wages, Trump is pushing $16 billion in taxpayer subsidies to farm owners. The subsidies are apparently in addition to close to $28 billion already spent or in the pipeline to farmers from the Trump administration to mitigate the devastating impact of the president’s ongoing trade war.
Critics charge that farmworker pay cuts will hurt vulnerable workers, already risking their lives to get food on Americans’ tables, and will further depress domestic wages, which fuel U.S. businesses.
“The administration is considering all policy options during this unprecedented crisis to ensure our great farmers are protected,” a White House official told NPR in response to questions about the strategy.
Some 2.5 million agricultural workers have been declared “essential workers” vital to protecting the line of food from farm to table. Foreign workers in the nation on the H-2A seasonal guest-worker program make up a significant 10 percent of all farmworkers.
Some 16.6 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past few weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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