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Louisiana Agribusiness Poised to Reap Millions Under White House-Backed Proposal

202-667-6982
For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, August 18, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Large agriculture interests across Louisiana are projected to receive more than $98 million in taxpayer dollars under a controversial disaster aid program conceived by Senate Agriculture Committee chair Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and embraced by the White House.

On Aug. 6, after Lincoln’s plan to compensate farmers for 2009 crop losses ran into trouble on Capitol Hill, the White House moved to salvage it – and boost Lincoln’s reelection prospects -- by pledging $1.5 billion in mystery administrative funds to underwrite the controversial and unorthodox idea. An analysis by Environmental Working Group has determined that the Lincoln plan would generate a six-figure windfall for hundreds of plantation-scale, highly subsidized rice and cotton farms across the South.

EWG projects that 10 Louisiana farming operations, including Condrey Farms in Lake Providence, Schenley Farm Partnership* in Mer Rouge, and Balmoral Farming Partnership in Newellton could rank among the nation’s top 50 beneficiaries of the Lincoln plan. In 2009 alone, each of these farms received more $300,000 in federal subsidies.

According to EWG’s calculations, the Lincoln plan could bestow $252,958 to $595,958 in additional public subsidies upon these agribusiness operators – at a time when other Louisiana business people, including those who make a living crabbing, shrimping and fishing, are struggling to survive in the face of BP oil spill, the worst environmental disaster in the Gulf States’ history.

EWG’s analysis shows that beneficiaries of the Lincoln plan would receive a lucrative taxpayer bailout even if they incurred only minor losses.

Lincoln, who is in a tough fight for reelection, has contended there is nothing partisan or unusual about asking the administration to underwrite her disaster aid program from existing U.S. Department of Agriculture funds.

“People can draw their own conclusions on the timing of the Lincoln bailout plan, but the administration sure has a lot of questions to answer,” said EWG legislative analyst, David DeGennaro. “Taxpayer dollars are a finite resource that should be spent with caution, not tossed around to wealthy agribusiness owners with no regard to need or circumstance, which is exactly what Senator Lincoln is trying to do here.”

Farm leaders in Congress are also worried about the plan. On August 12 Progressive Farmer Magazine reported House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) as telling Lincoln "he is 'not a big fan' of the low threshold for determining eligibility that would require a farmer to have suffered only a 5 percent loss. 

"Peterson said that under Lincoln's proposal, USDA would be 'making payments to some producers who do not need it and we will get all sorts of criticism over it, especially when people realize producers in over half of the counties in the United States will qualify to get a supplemental direct payment."

Top 20 Projected Louisiana Recipients and Their Projected Supplemental Disaster Payment

Rank Recipient
(click for subsidy listing)
Location Projected Supplemental Disaster Payment in 2010
1 Balmoral Farming Partnership Newellton, LA 71357 $595,958
2 Condrey Farms Lake Providence, LA 71254 $509,923
3 Schenley Farm Ptn Mer Rouge, LA 71261 $457,218
4 Hard Bargain Farms Partnership Epps, LA 71237 $308,001
5 Ash More Farm Partnership Mer Rouge, LA 71261 $293,274
6 Sweetlake Farm Partners Lake Charles, LA 70602 $288,000
7 Thibodeaux Ag Group Midland, LA 70559 $273,051
8 Four Oaks Farm Morganza, LA 70759 $263,548
9 Franklin Farms Newellton, LA 71357 $255,999
10 F & W Farms Crowley, LA 70526 $252,562
11 Big River Farms Natchez, MS 39121 $227,919
12 Loewer Brothers Eunice, LA 70535 $224,084
13 Clark Farms Joint Venture Mer Rouge, LA 71261 $218,262
14 Lakeland Planting Company Ferriday, LA 71334 $216,000
15 Franklin Partnership Rayville, LA 71269 $215,250
16 North Boeuf Farms Partnership Mer Rouge, LA 71261 $215,199
17 Rp7 Partnership Mer Rouge, LA 71261 $215,042
18 Elm Tree Planting Co Mer Rouge, LA 71261 $211,662
19 K T Farms Partnership II Saint Joseph, LA 71366 $207,637
20 Hardwick Planting Co Newellton, LA 71357 $203,457

Full list of projected recipients nationwide is available here.

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EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. http://www.ewg.org

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