Forbes Fat Cats Collect Taxpayer-Funded Farm Subsidies
Thursday, November 7, 2013

By Alex Rindler, EWG Policy Associate

Forbes Fat Cats Collect Taxpayer-Funded Farm Subsidies

The federal government paid out $11.3 million in taxpayer-funded farm subsidies to 50 billionaires or farm businesses in which they had an interest between 1995 and 2012, and changes to the farm bill being weighed by Congress could well increase their take. The billionaires profiting from farm subsidies were identified by matching EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database with the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans.

The billionaires who received farm subsidies between 1995 and 2012 have a collective net worth of $316 billion, based on the Forbes magazine estimates. They include:

  • Paul Allen (Net worth: $15.8 billion)
    • Co-founder of Microsoft
  • Charles Ergen (Net worth: $12.5 billion)
    • Co-founder of DISH Network
  • Philip Anschutz (Net worth: $10.3 billion)
    • Owner of Anschutz Entertainment Group and co-founder of Major League Soccer
  • Leonard Lauder (Net worth: $7.6 billion)
    • Son of Estee Lauder and former CEO of the Estee Lauder Companies Inc.
  • Jim Kennedy (Net worth: $6.7 billion)
    • Chairman of Cox Enterprises
  • S. Truett Cathy (Net worth: $6 billion)
    • Founder of Chick-fil-A
  • Leslie Wexner (Net worth: $5.7 billion)
    • CEO of L Brands Inc., which owns Victoria's Secret
  • Charles Schwab (Net worth: $5.1 billion)
    • Founder of brokerage firm Charles Schwab Corporation
  • Stewart & Lynda Resnick (Net worth: $3.5 billion)
    • Owners of POM Wonderful, Fiji Water and Teleflora
  • David Rockefeller, Sr. (Net worth: $2.8 billion)
    • Former chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan Bank
  • Penny Pritzker (Net worth: $2.2 billion)
    • U.S. Secretary of Commerce

Click here to see the full list of billionaires who have received farm subsidies.

Many of these same billionaires may have also received crop insurance subsidies, but taxpayers have no way of knowing because current law prohibits the disclosure of the identities of crop insurance policyholders.

According to EWG’s analysis, more than 40 billionaires own properties that grow crops that are among the most likely to be insured through the federal crop insurance program, including corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and sorghum. From 1995 to 2012, these five crops account for nearly $44 billion in premium subsidies - about 82 percent of total crop insurance subsidies and more than two-thirds of all acres enrolled in the crop insurance program.

A congressional conference committee is currently meeting to come up with a new farm bill, and proposed changes adopted in both the House and Senate versions of the bill will likely allow these billionaires to bank millions more in premium subsidies. Both bills would shift subsidies from programs currently subject to means testing to the more generous crop insurance program. Unlike traditional farm subsidies, crop insurance premium subsidies are not currently subject to means testing, payment limits or conservation requirements.

In 2008, Congress created a means test that was designed to deny some subsidies to individuals with annual off-farm income of more than $500,000. The year before, Bloomberg News published a report highlighting some of the billionaires who had been receiving subsidies. But, lawmakers specifically declined to apply it to crop insurance, which has become the primary government support for farm business income.

The farm bill conference committee is debating whether to include a modest crop insurance means test that would reduce premium subsidies for the largest one percent of farm businesses – a provision that twice passed the Senate and was endorsed last month by a non-binding resolution in the House.

On average, taxpayers cover 62 percent of the cost of crop insurance premiums. In 2011 alone, some 26 policyholders received more than $1 million each in premium support, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data analyzed by EWG. More than 10,000 policyholders received more than $100,000 each in premium support that year. In 2012, the USDA's Risk Managment Agency reported the crop insurance program cost taxpayers $14.1 billion. 

Like other farm subsidies, crop insurance subsidies overwhelmingly flow to the largest and most successful farm businesses. According to data EWG compiled from USDA, the largest one percent of farm businesses received about $227,000 a year in crop insurance premium support in 2011 – while the bottom 80 percent received only about $5,000 apiece.

 

Forbes 400 Subsidy Recipients (1995 – 2012)

The billionaires profiting from farm subsidies were identified by matching EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database with the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans. [See original article.]

Name

Source of Farm Subsidies

Paul Allen
Net worth: $15.8 billion
#26 on Forbes 400

Kona Residence Trust, which received $14,429 in barley subsidies from 1996 to 2006.

Philip Anschutz
Net worth: $10.3 billion
#38 on Forbes 400

Clm Company, which received $553,323 in cotton, wheat, sorghum, corn, oat, barley and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2003.

Equus Farms, which received $53,191 in livestock subsidies in 2002.

John Arrillaga
Net worth: $1.8 billion
#314 on Forbes 400

Peery & Arrillaga, which received $59,711 in wheat, sorghum, corn, barley, safflower and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2006.

Lee Bass
Net worth: $2.1 billion
#260 on Forbes 400

Panther City Cattle Company, which received $823,129 in cotton, wheat, corn and sorghum subsidies from 2000 to 2007.

El Coyote Ranch, which received $297,950 in wheat, sorghum, corn, soybean, oat and barley subsidies from 1995 to 2002.

Riley Bechtel
Net worth: $3.4 billion
#143 on Forbes 400

Fremont Investors, which received $484,283 in rice and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2003.

Stephen Bechtel, Jr.
Net worth: $3.4 billion
#143 on Forbes 400

Fremont Investors, which received $484,283 in rice and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2003.

Wild Goose Club, which received $947 in farm subsidies from 2006 to 2010.

Eli Broad
Net worth: $6.9 billion
#59 on Forbes 400

Placer Ranch Partners LP, which received $56,880 in wheat and rice subsidies from 1995 to 2005.

S. Truett Cathy
Net worth: $6 billion
#68 on Forbes 400

Rock Ranch LLC, which received $4,536 in livestock subsidies in 2003.

Gayle Cook
Net worth: $5.2 billion
#85 on Forbes 400

Cedar Farm Harrison County Inc., which received $41,141 in soybean, corn and tobacco subsidies from 1998 to 2003.

Richard DeVos
Net worth: $6.8 billion
#60 on Forbes 400

Ada Holdings LLC, which received $37,986 in corn, wheat and soybean subsidies from 2001 to 2006.

Charles Ergen
Net worth: $12.5 billion
#32 on Forbes 400

 

Telluray Ranch, which received $117,826 in crop and livestock disaster payments from 2002 to 2008.

Gerald J. Ford
Net worth: $1.9 billion
#296 on Forbes 400

Rio Hondo Land & Cattle Co. Inc., which received $222,433 in wool subsidies from 1995 to 2003.

Harold Hamm
Net worth: $12.4 billion
#33 on Forbes 400

$26,785 in wheat subsidies and disaster payments from 1995 to 2002.

Continental Resources of Illinois, which received $318 in disaster payments, corn and soybean subsidies from 2003 to 2004.

Diane Hendricks
Net worth: $4.4 billion
#103 on Forbes 400

H&H Farms of Wisconsin Inc., which received $379,933 in corn, soybean, wheat, oat and other farm subsidies from 1998 to 2001.

Ray Lee Hunt
Net worth: $5.6 billion
#74 on Forbes 400

Sharyland Limited Partnership, which received $110,270 in cotton, sorghum, sunflower and corn subsidies from 1998 to 2000.

Hunt Oil Co., which received $49,381 in livestock subsidies in 2002.

Paul Tudor Jones, II.
Net worth: $3.7 billion
#130 on Forbes 400

Buck Ridge Farms LLC, which received $8,260 in crop disaster payments, cotton, soybean, sorghum and corn subsidies from 1998 to 2003.

Tudor Farms Inc., which received $1 in sorghum subsidies in 1996.

George Kaiser
Net worth: $10 billion
#40 on Forbes 400

Kaiser-Francis Oil Company, which received $17,518 in wheat, sorghum and barley subsidies from 1996 to 2003.

Jim Kennedy
Net worth: $6.7 billion
#61 on Forbes 400

$37,162 in rice, corn, sorghum, wheat, soybean, sunflower and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2004.

York Woods At Yonkapin Cutoff LLC, which received $19,545 in rice, sorghum and soybean subsidies from 2002 to 2003.

Henry Kravis
Net worth: $4.7 billion
#95 on Forbes 400

M&T Chico Ranch, which received $511,633 in wheat, rice, corn, sorghum, sunflower, safflower, barley and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2005.

M&T Staten Ranch, which received $502,363 in corn and wheat subsidies from 1996 to 2002.

Ann Walton Kroenke
Net worth: $4.7 billion
#95 on Forbes 400

JL Walton Trust, which received $13,273 in corn, wheat, sorghum, soybean and oat subsidies from 1996 to 2002.

St. Roberts Centers & Farms, which received $6,642 in corn, wheat, sorghum and soybean subsidies from 1996 to 2002.

$378 in corn and sorghum subsidies in 1995.

Leonard Lauder
Net worth: $7.6 billion
#56 on Forbes 400

Horizon Organic Dairy Idaho Farm, which received $360,102 in wheat, diary, barley, corn and other farm subsidies from 1997 to 2004.

Horizon Organic Dairy Maryland Farm, which received $202,088 in dairy, corn, soybean, wheat and other farm subsidies from 1998 to 2005.

Nancy Walton Laurie
Net worth: $4 billion
#110 on Forbes 400

JL Walton Trust, which received $13,273 in corn, wheat, sorghum, soybean and oat subsidies from 1996 to 2002.

St. Roberts Centers & Farms, which received $6,642 in corn, wheat, sorghum and soybean subsidies from 1996 to 2002.

Marianne Liebmann
Net worth: $2.6 billion
#209 on Forbes 400

Morse Land Co. Ltd., which received $4,282 in livestock, barley, oat, wheat and other farm subsidies from 2000 to 2005.

Whitney MacMillan
Net worth: $3.8 billion
#122 on Forbes 400

$25,226 in wheat and barley subsidies from 1996 to 1999.

Wild Eagle Mountain Ranch LLC, which received $10,417 in wheat and barley subsidies from 2001 to 2003.

Neal Patterson
Net worth: $1.5 billion
#352 on Forbes 400

$51,911 in wheat and sorghum subsidies from 1995 to 2001.

Southpoint Farms LLC, which received $66,770 in disaster payments, wheat, sorghum and other farm subsidies from 2002 to 2012.

Richard Peery
Net worth: $2.1 billion
#260 on Forbes 400

Peery & Arrillaga, which received $59,711 in wheat, sorghum, corn, barley, safflower and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2006.

Anthony Pritzker
Net worth: $3 billion
#166 on Forbes 400

Chicago Mill & Lumber Co., which received $1,604,288 in cotton, soybean, corn, sorghum, wheat, rice, oat and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2006.

Daniel Pritzker
Net worth: $1.95 billion
#293 on Forbes 400

Chicago Mill & Lumber Co., which received $1,604,288 in cotton, soybean, corn, sorghum, wheat, rice, oat and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2006.

Jay Robert Pritzker
Net worth: $3 billion
#166 on Forbes 400

Chicago Mill & Lumber Co., which received $1,604,288 in cotton, soybean, corn, sorghum, wheat, rice, oat and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2006.

Jean (Gigi) Pritzker
Net worth: $2.1 billion
#260 on Forbes 400

Chicago Mill & Lumber Co., which received $1,604,288 in cotton, soybean, corn, sorghum, wheat, rice, oat and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2006.

Jennifer Pritzker
Net worth: $1.7 billion
#327 on Forbes 400

Chicago Mill & Lumber Co., which received $1,604,288 in cotton, soybean, corn, sorghum, wheat, rice, oat and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2006.

John Pritzker
Net worth: $2 billion
#273 on Forbes 400

Chicago Mill & Lumber Co., which received $1,604,288 in cotton, soybean, corn, sorghum, wheat, rice, oat and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2006.

Karen Pritzker
Net worth: $3.3 billion
#151 on Forbes 400

Chicago Mill & Lumber Co., which received $1,604,288 in cotton, soybean, corn, sorghum, wheat, rice, oat and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2006.

Linda Pritzker
Net worth: $1.8 billion
#314 on Forbes 400

Chicago Mill & Lumber Co., which received $1,604,288 in cotton, soybean, corn, sorghum, wheat, rice, oat and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2006.

Nicholas Pritzker, II.
Net worth: $1.35 billion
#382 on Forbes 400

Chicago Mill & Lumber Co., which received $1,604,288 in cotton, soybean, corn, sorghum, wheat, rice, oat and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2006.

Penny Pritzker
Net worth: $2.2 billion
#252 on Forbes 400

Chicago Mill & Lumber Co., which received $1,604,288 in cotton, soybean, corn, sorghum, wheat, rice, oat and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2006.

Thomas Pritzker
Net worth: $2.7 billion
#201 on Forbes 400

Chicago Mill & Lumber Co., which received $1,604,288 in cotton, soybean, corn, sorghum, wheat, rice, oat and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2006.

Stewart & Lynda Resnick
Net worth: $3.5 billion
#134 on Forbes 400

Paramount Land Co. LP, which received $576,603 in wheat, cotton, corn, sorghum and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2002.

David Rockefeller, Sr.
Net worth: $2.8 billion
#193 on Forbes 400

$563,715 in corn, soybean, wheat, oat, sorghum and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2006.

Robert Rowling
Net worth: $4.9 billion
#93 on Forbes 400

Rowling Ranch Corp., which received $157,427 in corn, sorghum and livestock subsidies from 2000 to 2008.

Fayez Sarofim
Net worth: $2 billion
#273 on Forbes 400

Holly Sugar Corp., which received $51,246 in wheat, corn, barley, sugar beet, oat and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2003.

FS Ranch Corporation, which received $67,125 in livestock subsidies in 2002.

Charles Schwab
Net worth: $5.1 billion
#88 on Forbes 400

$525,593 in rice and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2003.

Walter Scott, Jr.
Net worth: $2.2 billion
#252 on Forbes 400

$62,031 in livestock subsidies in 2002.

Double Eight Land Corp., which received $41,101 in livestock subsidies in 2002.

Harold Simmons
Net worth: $10 billion
#40 on Forbes 400

Dixie Rice Agriculture Corp., which received $677,300 in rice, sorghum and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2003.

Southwest Louisiana Land Co Inc., which received $272,511 in disaster payments, rice, soybean and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2003.

Contran Realty Corp., which received $17,754 in rice and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2003.

Contran Corp., which received $2,960 in wheat subsidies from 1998 to 2000.

Warren Stephens
Net worth: $2.5 billion
#222 on Forbes 400

Stephens Group Incorporated, which received $146,260 in peanut, wheat, corn, oat, sorghum and other farm subsidies from 1996 to 2003.

Greenbriar Lodge LLC, which received $86,642 in rice, soybean and wheat subsidies from 2002 to 2008.

Glen Taylor
Net worth: $1.7 billion
#327 on Forbes 400

Glen A. Taylor Revocable Trust, which received $832,970 in corn, soybean, wheat, oat and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2007.

Alice Walton
Net worth: $33.5 billion
#8 on Forbes 400

Robson Ranch Inc., which received $261,292 in crop disaster payments, wheat, soybean, corn and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2008.

Jim Walton
Net worth: $33.8 billion
#7 on Forbes 400

Robson Ranch Inc., which received $261,292 in crop disaster payments, wheat, soybean, corn and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2008.

S. Robson Walton
Net worth: $33.3 billion
#9 on Forbes 400

Robson Ranch Inc., which received $261,292 in crop disaster payments, wheat, soybean, corn and other farm subsidies from 1995 to 2008.

Leslie Wexner
Net worth: $5.7 billion
#73 on Forbes 400

LAW Plantation Co. LLC, which received $209,717 in wheat, corn, sorghum and oat subsidies from 1997 to 2003.

The New Albany Co., which received $13 in farm subsidies in 1996.