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Top Subsidy Recipient Owns Nebraska Land

Monday, September 21, 2009

Omaha World Herald, Bill Hord

Published June 12, 2007

Florida land tycoon Maurice Wilder, who owns 33,000 acres of farm ground in southwest Nebraska and 200,000 acres nationwide, topped the nation's list of farm subsidy recipients in 2005.

Wilder received $1.8 million in subsidies that year, according to a new national database posted Monday by the Environmental Working Group.

Wilder also has 125 irrigation wells on his Nebraska land. He was featured Sunday in the sixth installment of a World-Herald series titled Irrigation Empire.

Wilder, 66, has never lived in Nebraska. He is a developer of retirement communities, RV parks and office buildings. His real estate holdings in 2005 were worth about $500 million.

He owns 10 office buildings in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area and 4,500 mobile home lots and 12,500 recreational vehicle lots in Florida and Texas.

The Environmental Working Group database, compiled from U.S. Department of Agriculture figures, also lists Wilder as the No. 1 subsidy recipient in the three-year period from 2003 through 2005, with $3.2 million in government payments.

According to the data, Wilder received $757,053 in subsidies directly from the USDA and $2.5 million through Wilder Corp. of Delaware and Wilder Farms Inc. Only $124,526 was paid for participation in conservation programs.

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