Pocket pickers: Eight cotton farms picking taxpayer pockets

After collecting taxpayer-funded subsidies for 37 years straight, eight cotton farms have received over $10 million each – and now some members of Congress want to give them even more.

From 1985 to 2021, the eight farms all collected subsidies every year, with a combined value of $91.7 million, an EWG analysis of Department of Agriculture data finds.

Cotton farm

Subsidy payments 1985-2021



Parker Brothers Farm




Fann Farms




Connelly Farms




Michael Brown & Sons


Lake Providence


Isbell Farms


Muscle Shoals


Anderson Farms




VIP Farms




Pearson Farms




Total payments



Some farm groups and legislators have proposed increasing price guarantees for major crops in the USDA’s Price Loss Coverage program. But this would mostly benefit fewer than 6,000 farms growing peanuts, cotton and rice in Southern states.

Of these farms, 2,931, or 52 percent, likely grow cotton. 

According to researchers, “even a 10 percent increase in the statutory reference prices for all crops would come with almost no payoff in the near-term for most farmers (except those with seed cotton, rice, or peanut base acres).”

Farmers growing cotton, rice and peanuts get a payment that covers the difference between the price guarantee in the farm bill and the market price of the crop. Since payments are linked to production, the largest producers get the lion’s share of the funding. In 2021, just 10 percent of farmers received more than 80 percent of all Price Loss Coverage payments. 

Subsidy programs rigged to benefit Southern farmers are nothing new. 

The Government Accountability Office found the USDA’s Market Facilitation Program paid cotton farmers 33 times more than the actual costs of the damage and benefited Southern states the most. The USDA created the program during the Trump administration to address profit losses caused by President Donald Trump’s trade war with China.

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