Members of Congress Collect At Least $9.5 Million in Farm Subsidies

Members of Congress collected at least $9.5 million in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2014, according to new data from EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database – including more than $1.1 million in subsidies over the last five years.

The 36 legislators and their spouses received millions in traditional farm subsidies since 1995. It’s likely that many also received crop insurance subsidies – but those are hidden from the public.  

Key findings:

  • The farm owned in part by Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) received at least $5.3 million between 1995 and 2014. The farm owned by Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) received at least $3.6 million in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2014. Both LaMalfa and Fincher have invoked the Bible to attack anti-hunger programs.
  • Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) received at least $220,000 in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2012. Stutzman has frequently railed against government spending, warning “there are too many hands in the cookie jar.”
  • Several Tea Party leaders – including the current and former leaders of the fiscally conservative Republican Study Committee – received farm subsidies.
  • Some current or former chairs of committees overseeing the U.S. Department of Agriculture have received subsidies, including Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). The most senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, has also received subsidies.
  • Overall, ten members of the House Agriculture Committee received at least $3.5 million in farm subsidies from 1995 to 2014.

See the full list of members collecting farm subsidies by clicking the graphic. 

Of the 36 current lawmakers and spouses that received farm subsidies, 16 cumulatively received more than $1.1 million between 2011 and 2015.

EWG focused our analysis on members of Congress and their spouses. Some legislators’ extended families also receive farm subsidies, such as the family of Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).

Of 36 legislators collecting farm subsidies, 34 grow corn, soybeans, sorghum, cotton, rice, barley and tobacco – crops that are eligible for both traditional farm subsidies and crop insurance subsidies.

Traditional commodity subsidies are subject to a modest means test that was tightened under the 2014 Farm Bill. Unlike traditional commodity subsidies, crop insurance subsidies can benefit any farmer – regardless of income – and the USDA doesn’t have to make the names of crop insurance beneficiaries public.

Efforts to require greater disclosure of crop insurance subsidies, including which legislators receive subsidies, were defeated in 2014, when Congress last considered the farm bill.

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