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Family of West Virginia governor maxed out $125,000 in trade subsidies

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  • The family of billionaire West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice benefited and maxed out a taxpayer-funded subsidy aimed at softening the economic blow for farmers hurt by President Donald Trump’s ongoing trade war with China.
  • The Associated Press reported that records show that Justice Farms of North Carolina, owned by Justice’s family, reached the $125,000 ceiling earlier this year and received the largest amount of soybean subsidies in West Virginia.
  • The AP reported that the figures vastly exceed the average payments to other farmers: $6,438 for soybeans and $152 for corn.
  • Justice’s estimated net worth is $1.5 billion, generated from a sprawling agricultural and coal empire, making him West Virginia’s richest man.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for stories.

The family of billionaire West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice benefited and maxed out a taxpayer-funded subsidy aimed at softening the economic blow for farmers hurt by President Donald Trump’s ongoing trade war with China.

The Associated Press reported that records show that Justice Farms of North Carolina — owned by Justice’s family — reached the $125,000 ceiling earlier this year and received the largest amount of soybean subsidies in West Virginia.

The company accepted $121,398 in soybean subsidies and $3,602 for corn on farm properties it owned throughout West Virginia. The AP reported that the figures vastly exceed the average payments to other farmers: $6,438 for soybeans and $152 for corn.

There is no evidence that Justice committed any wrongdoing by drawing funds from the program. A spokesperson for Justice’s companies told the AP “it’s absurd for anyone to use this important program as the basis for cynical political attacks” and many businesses around the country had received the money.

Read more: Farmers are skeptical of the partial trade pact Trump announced with China

Justice’s family could be receiving more payments in the near future, the report noted. The Trump administration bailed out farmers struggling with lost sales abroad to the tune of $28 billion so far and lifted the maximum amount farm operations are allowed to receive to $250,000 for the second round of payments. Loopholes, however, have allowed large farms to benefit and sometimes blow past the existing subsidies cap.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa — who owns 750 acres where he grows soybean and corn — has also benefited from the subsidy program, the Des Moines Register reported. Yet he’s also called for stricter oversight on how funds are ultimately distributed in the program.

Justice’s estimated net worth is $1.5 billion, generated from a sprawling agricultural and coal empire, making him West Virginia’s richest man. He listed over 100 business interests in his last financial disclosure form. He faced extensive criticism after not placing his businesses in a blind trust when he became governor, which would shield him from possible conflicts of interest.

Justice sought to distance himself from his companies by arguing his children now control them.

Read more: Farmers are slamming Trump’s $28 billion farm bailout — more than double Obama’s 2009 payment to automakers — as a ‘Band-Aid’

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