The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released new data reaffirming the scandal that is federal farm policy. The government pumps out billions of dollars a year in subsidies to farm businesses, and the giveaways mainly benefit the richest farmers.
The EWG found that, “Between 1995 and 2016, the top 10 percent received 77 percent of all ‘covered commodity’ subsidies … The top 1 percent received 26 percent of all subsidies, or $1.7 million per recipient.”
The top subsidy recipient was Deline Farms Partnership, which received more than $4 million in 2016. EWG notes that the median household income in Charleston, Mo., where Deline Farms is based, is just $27,000.
Farm subsidies are not only reverse Robin Hood policies, they also always seem to cost more than Congress promises. EWG notes, “the projected cost to taxpayers of farm subsidy programs from 2016 to 2018 is roughly $7.5 billion more than the CBO predicted when the current farm bill was enacted in 2014.”
What’s the solution? Bipartisan spending cuts. EWG: “Sens. Jeff Flake, R‐Ariz., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, R‐Wisc., and Ron Kind, D‐Wisc., have proposed legislation to cap all farm subsidies, subject all farm subsidies to a means test, and require the USDA to disclose the names of all farm subsidy recipients.”
For a discussion of the history and economics of federal farm subsidies, see this DownsizingGovernment study.