Farm connected to West Virginia's billionaire governor maxes out trade war subsidies

A family business of West Virginia's billionaire governor has maxed out a taxpayer-funded subsidy program meant to help farmers affected by the U.S.-China trade war.

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But a representative of the business has not shared details about how trade tensions have had an impact, if at all.

Records reviewed by The Associated Press show Justice Farms of North Carolina, which is owned by the family of Gov. Jim Justice, hit the program cap of $125,000 earlier this year and was the biggest recipient of soybean subsidies in West Virginia.

"Justice Farms of North Carolina was one of more than 3,000 farms in that state alone, and nearly 40,000 farms and businesses nationwide, that received support from this program. It’s absurd for anyone to use this important program as the basis for cynical political attacks," said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the Justice companies.

A trailer is filled with soybeans at a farm in Buda, Illinois, U.S., July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Acker/File Photo - RC1C1C573E90

Walsh did not detail losses suffered by Justice Farms of North Carolina in the U.S. trade war.

Justice, the richest person in the state, owns a complex business empire of coal and agricultural entities.

The company took in $121,398 in subsidies for soybeans and $3,602 for corn for farms on property it owns in West Virginia, according to records provided to AP under the Freedom of Information Act. Both figures far exceed the program’s median payments: $6,438 for soybeans and $152 for corn.

President Trump’s administration set up the Market Facilitation Program to help offset losses caused by tariffs, basing the payouts on bushels produced. The program does not require farms to demonstrate their operations have been damaged by the trade war.

Loopholes have allowed many large, moneyed farming operations to blow past the $125,000 cap, according to an AP analysis of the payments.

With a net worth estimated at $1.5 billion, Justice lists more than 100 business interests on his most recent financial disclosure form. When Justice became governor, he said he wanted to put his businesses in a blind trust but has not done so, causing criticism when his private and public roles intersect.

In the case of Justice Farms of North Carolina, the governor was listed as a manager in North Carolina business registry filings up until 2018, when his daughter’s name replaced his.

Justice has closely aligned himself with President Trump and credited his state's economic growth to the president this past summer.

FOX Business' inquiry to a spokesman for the governor were not returned at the time of publication.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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