As Congress Finalizes Farm Bill Deal EWG Lists Recipients of Controversial Direct Payment Subsidies for 2007
Washington, DC, April 29--By any measure, 2007 was a banner year for farmers of grain, soybeans and cotton, as high prices for their crops earned them record net income, even after they paid skyrocketing costs for fuel, fertilizer and seed.
But under formulas set by Congress in the 2002 farm law, taxpayers topped off the record farm earnings of 2007 with another $5 billion in "direct payment" crop subsidies.
The names of the direct payment subsidy recipients and the amount they received in 2007 were released online today by Environmental Working Group (EWG).
As Americans begin receiving a few hundred dollars of their own money back from Washington this week in one-time tax rebates, some of which they'll spend to cover rising food costs, Congress is finalizing a plan to send far more generous direct payment subsidies to some of the largest, most prosperous farms in the nation every year over the next five years.
"Though net farm income reached a record level of $88.7 billion in 2007, propelled by high market prices for major crops, Washington still sent out over $5 billion of taxpayers' money in "direct payment" farm subsidies to over 1.4 million recipients," said Ken Cook, president of EWG. "Over 60 percent of the subsidy was pocketed by just 10 percent of the recipients-the largest and generally wealthiest subsidized farming operations in the country."
Farm income exceeded $84,000 per household on average in 2007, compared to a 2006 average for all U.S. households of $66,000.
"Congress is about to be grotesquely generous to big, subsidized farms that are now enjoying unprecedented prosperity, including double-digit increases in farmland prices," said Cook. "The list of farm subsidy beneficiaries we're publishing today will make clear the disturbing degree to which congressional leaders are catering to the powerful farm subsidy lobby at the expense of ordinary American taxpayers, while shortchanging other vital national needs," Cook said.
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Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization that uses the power of information to protect the environment and public health. EWG's Farm Subsidy Database (http://farm.ewg.org/farm/) has been searched over 102 million times since Nov. 2004.