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Andy Nguyen
By Andy Nguyen September 7, 2021

No, the U.S. government isn’t telling farmers to destroy their crops

If Your Time is short

  • There are currently no major disruptions to the U.S. food supply chain, or any threat of a nationwide food shortage.
  • Creators of some of the videos said they were joking. 
  • Some farmers did have to destroy their crops early on in the pandemic because of reduced demand from restaurants, hotels and schools.

A collection of videos circulating on social media claim the U.S. government is forcing farmers in the U.S. to destroy their crops. Several of the videos say the intent is to cause food shortages and mass starvation in the country.

The videos were edited together into an eight-minute compilation and shared in an Aug. 24 Facebook post titled "Farmers destroying crops world wide." A majority of the videos appear to be taken from TikTok.

"In this video we will see farmers getting letters from the government to destroy their crops," a caption for the post reads.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

The first video in the compilation features a man claiming his father works in the agriculture industry, and was told the federal government would offer farmers 1.5 times the value of the crops to have them destroyed. Farmers who refused the offer would have their federal subsidies withheld, he said.

"They are trying to create a food shortage," the man in the video says. "We have eight months to get our own food supply. We're probably going to be facing mass starvation."

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Agriculture said farmers are not being asked to destroy their crops.

The USDA said on its website there is "no nationwide shortage of food," and no disruptions in the food supply chain.

"USDA and the Food and Drug Administration are closely monitoring the food supply chain for any shortages in collaboration with industry and our federal and state partners," the department said. "We are in regular contact with food manufacturers and grocery stores."

Another video features a man claiming to have a letter from the USDA asking him to destroy his crops. He claims he also received information on how to dispose of the destroyed crops.

The man said the information is "on government paper," and the video briefly shows a piece of paper with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality logo, but no USDA letter. 

Featured Fact-check

The document from the Nebraska agency has nothing to do with crops — it’s about livestock manure and is dated January 2018.

Christin Kamm, communications director for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, said there was no truth to the claims in the man's video or any of the others featured in the compilation.

In a follow-up video, the man admits the video was a fake and said he was joking.

At least one other TikTok video featured in the compilation was also a joke. In it, a man claimed he received a letter from the "Department of Hydrocarbons" telling him to dump his oil in order to help stabilize oil prices.

The video then shows what appears to be a black substance being dumped onto the ground.

While the video no longer appears on the man’s TikTok page, he posted a follow-up video admitting he was joking. The substance wasn't actually oil, but sediment and water that had settled at the bottom of an oil tank. There is no Department of Hydrocarbons.

The video was created "to show the disconnect between [people] in rural areas and people in the city," he said.

"These people in the city have no idea what it takes to make sure there's food in the grocery store and gasoline at the gas pump," the man said. "So we're just making stuff up for the fun of it."

At one point early in the pandemic, closures of restaurants, hotels and schools forced many farms to destroy products that could no longer be sold, the New York Times reported. But they were not ordered to do so. 

Our ruling

A compilation of videos being shared on Facebook all claim that the federal government is telling farmers in the U.S. to destroy their crops, and threatening to withhold subsidies. Several users claim it’s to artificially cause food shortages in the country.

The USDA said farmers are not being told to destroy their crops, and that there are no nationwide food shortages on the horizon.

Two people featured in the compilation later admitted they were joking in their videos.

We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, Aug. 24, 2021

Randellburton1 TikTok post, May 17, 2021

Email with USDA spokesperson, Sept. 1, 2021

USDA, Food Supply Chain, accessed Sept. 7, 2021

Neflyinfarmer TikTok post, July 6, 2021

Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy, Land Application Training, Jan. 1, 2018

Email with Nebraska Department of Agriculture Communications Director Christin Kamm, Aug. 31, 2021

Neflyinfarmer TikTok post, Aug. 26, 2021

Bushelsandbarrels TikTok post, July 26, 2021

The New York Times, "Dumped Milk, Smashed Eggs, Plowed Vegetables: Food Waste of the Pandemic," April 11, 2020

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No, the U.S. government isn’t telling farmers to destroy their crops

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