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Farm Subsidies Still Concentrated in the Hands of the Most Successful
Environmental Working Group’s latest update of the EWG farm subsidy database shows that farm subsidies continue to benefit the largest and most successful farm businesses and a handful of states and congressional districts.
- The 10 percent of farm operations that got the most subsidies harvested 77 percent of all farm commodity subsidies between 1995 and 2011.
- In contrast 80 percent of recipients received only10 percent of total payments – an average payment of $7,000.
The new data also confirm that the current crop insurance program has already surpassed traditional farm subsidies as the primary way taxpayers support farm income.
The cost of the crop insurance has exploded from $2 billion in 2002 to S9 billion last year -- compared to $5 billion in direct payments.
- CBO estimates it will cost $90 billion over the next 10 years compared to $50 billion in direct payments.
Moreover, insurance subsidies are just as, or more, concentrated as the direct payment subsidies that may finally be ending in the 2012 farm bill. The 10 percent of farm operations that benefited the most from premium subsidies in 2011 collected 54 percent of all subsidies that year.
An EWG analysis of the database found 23 members of Congress, or their family members, received $6.2 million in subsidy payments between 1995 and 2011. They have likely received crop insurance subsidies too. That question cannot be answered until Congress changes the law that bars the federal government from releasing recipients’ names.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., a former secretary of agriculture, told Bloomberg BNA (subscription required) that he had confidence in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ability to enact conservation compliance policy. “If the USDA implements this in a thoughtful, rational way, it'll be fine. I think this will work,” said Johanns.
The Times Ledger looks at what the defeat of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s, D-N.Y., amendment will mean for families in the state of New York.
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