WEBCAST: Web site names who’s getting biggest farm subsidies
June 13, 2007
• Small number get lion’s share
• How much did your competitor get?
American taxpayers are helping fatten the bank accounts of millionaire absentee farmers while smaller family farms are hard-pressed to make ends meet, the Environmental Working Group says.
The EWG has sifted data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to attach the names of people to the companies getting the biggest fartm subsidies, publishing the results on a Web site.
In some cases, those enjoying the largest largess are farmers only distantly, it says.
“The vast majority of money is going to a very small number of people,” says Sandra Schubert, director of government affairs for EWG. “About a third of the farmers in the country get no money whatsoever.”
(Ms. Schubert talks about the study and what it’s found in a CVBT Audio Interview. Please click on the link below to listen or to download to your iPod or PC)
The Environmental Working Group says it’s the first time there has been nearly full disclosure of where the tax money is going.
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, EWG says. 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.
“American taxpayers have been writing farm subsidy checks to wealthy absentee land owners, state prison systems, universities, public corporations, and very large, well-heeled farm business operations without the government so much as asking the beneficiaries if they need our money," says Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. "Even if you live smack in the middle of a big city, type in a ZIP code and you'll find farm subsidy recipients.”
The database shows that farm program benefits are highly concentrated in the hands of a small minority of subsidized individuals and operations, with the top 1 percent of beneficiaries claiming 17 percent of the crop subsidy benefits between 2003 and 2005, EWG says.
The top five recipients of farm subsidies in California, according to EWG, are:
1 Dublin Farms Corcoran $4,286,864
2 Starrh & Starrh Ctn Grower Shafter $3,908,116
3 Buttonwillow Land and Cattle Co Buttonwillow $3,116,604
4 Hansen Ranches A Pts Corcoran $2,985,323
5 Sandridge Partners Sunnyvale $2,755,634