Four U.S. Senators and 11 House Representative were among the beneficiaries of taxpayer-funded farm subsidies last year, according to information compiled by Environmental Working Group (EWG), a health and environmental nonprofit.
The $237,921 the Congressmen received represents a drop in the $20 billion-per-year ocean of Farm Bill direct-subsidy money. A product of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Depression-era government expansion, the omnibus piece of budgeting and entitlement legislation now not only pays subsidies to farmers, but also dictates National food policy for both production and consumption, and funds the ever-swelling SNAP food stamp program.
In short, the Farm Bill is an entitlement monster. In socially conservative, rural States, a lot of sworn Republicans’ staunch talk about smaller government and ending welfare melts away to the loudest of Liberal bellyaching when talk of trimming, or ending, the Farm Bill comes up. Being against agricultural subsidies and the lobbying interests that back the farming business is a sure way to be a one-term Legislator in districts dominated by agriculture.
In the case of farmer’s subsidies, you don’t have to be out on the land to qualify. I’ve you’ve got any skin in the farming game at all — no matter how tenuous the connection — you may qualify. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, for example, owned 16 percent of Racota Valley Ranch until 2008. She received more than $500,000 in subsidies between 1995 and 2012.
President Jimmy Carter’s farm has received $272,000 in subsidies over the same period — and although he arguably has more skin in the game than many of the Congressmen on the list, he’s also a wealthy former U.S. President who doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a needy farmer reaching out for a helping hand.
Politicians make easy targets, but the unchecked largesse of the Farm Bill knows no favorites. People like Ted Turner and Larry Flynt also have received farmers’ “welfare” payouts. Small farmers often receive subsidies to prevent them from cultivating certain crops.
Some subsidies are even given to individuals and companies that have absolutely nothing to do with agriculture. Food conglomerates and liquor distillers are only two examples.
Farm subsidies are just another example of the redistribution of wealth. Just another example of the federal government stealing money from one group of people and giving it to another. Just another example of crony capitalism.
The federal government would have you believe that these farm subsidies are meant to give assistance to small farmers when in reality, most of the money is given to larger farms, which of course, not only does not assist small farmers, but increases their chance of going out of business because of larger farms cornering certain markets. Additionally, some of the large dairy producers that are heavily subsidized have convinced the federal government to prohibit the sale of raw milk, continuing the trend of trying to put the little guys out of business and flooding the market with heavily pasteurized and potentially dangerous dairy products.