Here we are three years later and the corporate welfare safety net has … expanded. Despite good‐faith efforts by some courageous souls like House Budget Committee chairman John Kasich, not a single major corporate subsidy program in the budget — of the more than 100 we at the Cato Institute have cataloged — has been terminated. Corporate welfare, it turns out, has influential sponsors in both parties.
Later this month the Senate will have one last chance to target what is arguably the most absurd of all corporate subsidies: the Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program (MAP).
MAP provides taxpayer assistance to some of America’s most profitable food companies to pay for the overseas advertising of their products. The list of recent beneficiaries includes the Pillsbury dough boy, the California dancing raisins and Fruit of the Loom underwear. In 1995 MAP gave $500,000 to Tyson Foods; $730,000 to Welch Foods, the fruit juice company; $42,000 to Pepperidge Farms; $308,000 to Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc.; $14,000 to High Mountain Jerky Inc. (they make the famous Beef Jerky); and $281,000 to the Campbell Soup Co. Mmm, mmm, good!
Not long ago MAP was subsidizing foreign sales of U.S. tobacco and furrier companies, but, of course, these days such taxpayer promotions are the height of political incorrectness. To refine its tainted image and to try to fend off the few budget hawks left in Congress, MAP also says it will no longer offer grants to Fortune 500 firms like Dole, Ernest and Julio Gallo and Ralston‐Purina — yes, cat food has long been considered a strategic export under this silly program. Instead, MAP will emphasize handouts for small and minority‐owned food companies, such as the Great Western Tortilla Co. in Denver and Sire Power, Inc. of Texas, which exports bull sperm.