Harvesting Cash: American Farmers Got $35 Billion
For decades, American taxpayers have provided tens of billions of dollars in federal farm subsidies ($35 billion between 2003-2005) to some of the largest and wealthiest farm businesses in the nation. But thousands of people who benefited from the subsidy flow were shielded from public view behind layers of partnerships, joint ventures, limited liability corporations, cooperatives, and other business structures that obscured their personal subsidy claims. Not anymore.
A new online database, developed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) from millions of previously unpublished USDA subsidy records, provides nearly full disclosure of federal farm subsidy beneficiaries for the first time. The disclosures include individuals, sometimes numbering in the dozens, whose subsidy benefits pass through one or more plantation-scale farm businesses that produce vast quantities of subsidized cotton, rice and other crops. Many of those businesses receive millions in USDA crop subsidies each year, and according to the new USDA data, pass six-figure benefits through to many people. In many cases, these individuals have not previously had subsidy benefits attributed to them by name.
EWG finds that the top 1% of beneficiaries received 17% of the crop subsidy benefits between 2003 and 2005, and their average benefit was $377,484 per person for the 3 program years or over $125,000 apiece annually.
Read more about EWG here, and check out its updated searchable Farm Subsidy database that just became available today.
Read an AP story here about EWG and the new searchable farm subsidy database.
And who has harvested the most money from farm programs? Who's The King? As revealed in the new data, the current answer to that question is one Maurice Wilder, resident of Florida. Mr. Wilder received a total of $3,217,158 in farm program payments from 2003-2005. Read about The King of Farm Cash here.
Reminds of an old joke - Q: How do you starve a farmer? A: Weld his mailbox shut.