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Critic of "Bottom Feeders" Got $1 Million in Farm Subsidies

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

An Iowa state senator who called public workers requesting better retirement benefits “bottom feeders with their hand out” has been caught with his own hand in the cookie jar. Sen. Mark Zieman was forced to admit that he and his wife have received over $1 million in federal farm subsidies since 1993.

According to the Associated Press, an Iowa citizen angered by Zeiman’slur against retirees looked in EWG’s Farm Subsidies Database and found proof of the senator’s hypocrisy. The database, which is free to the public, contains the name of every U.S. farm subsidy recipient from 1995 to 2003, how much they got, and what they got it for. Zeiman, questioned about his farm’s dependence on federal handouts, said he personally opposes farm subsidies but will take them until the program changes because he “knows how to work the system.”

For Zieman and other big recipients of crop subsidies, the current system uses taxpayers’ money to help agribusiness drive small family farmers off their land. EWG analysis of the farm subsidy program found two-thirds of farmers and most ranchers aren’t even eligible for the programs.

Recently, the Bush Administration proposed capping taxpayer money that can go to any given agribusiness at $250,000 and end the lucrative loopholes that allow some producers almost unlimited money. By capping subsidies, more money could be invested in the proven conservation programs for which all farmers and ranchers are eligible. But the Administration recently signalled that, after facing a firestorm of outrage from agribusiness interests and their Congressional allies, it was backing down on the proposal.

Search EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database

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