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Freedom to Farm

An analysis of payments to large agribusiness operations, big city residents, and the USDA bureaucracy

February 1, 1996

Freedom to Farm: Chapter 3. City Slickers: "Freedom to Farm" Payments to Recipients in America's Biggest Cities

In March, 1995, EWG published City Slickers, the first-ever analysis of farm subsidy payments to residents of America's largest cities. Our analysis found that American taxpayers send hundreds of millions of dollars in Federal farm subsidy checks every year to a handful of absentee owners, corporations and other "farmers" who live smack in the middle of the country's biggest cities. We also found that, from Beverly Hills to Key West, it is the rare, well-heeled suburb, urban enclave or resort spot in the United States that did not have at lease one Federal farm subsidy recipient in residence.

Under "Freedom to Farm," taxpayers will continue to make massive, guaranteed payments to urban recipients, many of whom live hundreds or thousands of miles from their farms. In fact, "Freedom to Farm" will give away millions more to these absentee owners than they would receive under current law.

City Slickers documented how easy it is under current farm program rules for a person, corporation or other legal entity to qualify for farm subsidies, even if the person or business is located in a big city. "Freedom to Farm" will make it even easier to get subsidies, which will flow to cities and sunny resort spots far removed from the farm for 7 full years.

Findings

EWG estimates that over 37,000 individuals, corporations and other entities in the nation's 50 largest cities will be eligible to receive some $365 million over the next 7 years under the proposed "Freedom to Farm" program (Table 4). The average payment will be about $10,000, but many city residents and corporations will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of the program.

Table 4: More than 37,000 residents of America's 50 largest cities will be eligible for an estimated $365 million in "Freedom to Farm" Payments

City, State Estimated Freedom to Farm subsidies to city residents, 1996-2002 Number of Freedom to Farm recipients, 1996-2002 Rank by population
New York, NY $1,955,225 199 1
Los Angeles, CA $3,525,474 383 2
Chicago, IL $6,938,427 758 3
Houston, TX $22,606,303 2,966 4
Philadelphia, PA $213,583 47 5
San Diego, CA $3,375,828 530 6
Detroit, MI $443,903 103 7
Dallas, TX $20,910,540 2,446 8
Phoenix, AZ $23,927,003 873 9
San Antonio, TX $9,902,010 1,400 10
San Jose, CA $2,048,526 294 11
Baltimore, MD $598,055 110 12
Indianapolis, IN $8,415,814 1,178 13
San Francisco, CA $6,483,474 268 14
Jacksonville, FL $1,356,941 178 15
Columbus, OH $5,383,278 626 16
Milwaukee, WI $1,771,840 226 17
Memphis, TN $21,907,801 1,703 18
Washington, DC $1,615,688 207 19
Boston, MA $312,903 19 20
Seattle, WA $5,897,677 872 21
El Paso, TX $2,402,524 322 22
Cleveland, OH $454,370 105 23
New Orleans, LA $2,235,862 235 24
Nashville, TN $2,559,886 417 25
Denver, CO $14,624,809 1,792 26
Austin, TX $10,553,527 1,543 27
Fort Worth, TX $9,494,035 1,304 28
Oklahoma City, OK $14,924,024 2,330 29
Portland, OR $6,846,323 805 30
Kansas City, MO $11,153,387 1,787 31
Long Beach, CA $1,431,371 201 32
Tucson, AZ $8,550,239 747 33
Saint Louis, MO $10,172,170 1,641 34
Charlotte, NC $621,469 156 35
Atlanta, GA $2,654,360 335 36
Virginia Beach, VA $4,794,163 209 37
Albuquerque, NM $4,880,136 644 38
Honolulu, HI $544,422 71 39
Oakland, CA $954,193 97 40
Pittsburgh, PA $534,272 90 41
Sacramento, CA $19,785,363 611 42
Minneapolis, MN $10,931,403 1,507 43
Tulsa, OK $6,613,939 1,044 44
Cincinnati, OH $4,247,642 601 45
Miami, FL $1,388,919 184 46
Fresno, CA $31,345,438 567 47
Omaha, NE $29,504,720 2,775 48
Toledo, OH $999,544 203 49
Buffalo, NY $189,470 49 50
   
Total, top 50 cities $364,982,276 37,758

Our analysis indicates that "Freedom to Farm" subsidies could exceed $20 million to eligible payees in 6 cities: Houston ($22.6 million), Dallas ($20.9 million), Phoenix ($23.9 million), Memphis ($21.9 million), Fresno ($31.3 million) and Omaha ($29.5 million). As in our original analysis, we found that in most cities, potential "Freedom to Farm" payments would pour in from farms located in dozens of states.

EWG prepared "Freedom to Farm" payment estimates for all potentially eligible recipients in these cities. In Table 5, we present the top 100 potential "Freedom to Farm" subsidy recipients, and an estimate of the payments for which they would be eligible. Few of these top recipients actually are individuals. Most of the top 100 are general partnerships, joint ventures, or corporations located in larger cities, and most of these entities will receive their payments under the rice or cotton provisions of "Freedom to Farm." All of the top 100 "city slicker," potential recipients of "Freedom to Farm" subsidies are eligible for an estimated $270,000 or more. Five big city prospective recipients could be eligible for over $1 million, and 27 may be receiving $500,000 or more. Arizona, California, Texas and Tennessee are heavily represented in the Top 100.

Table 5. Each of the top 100 projected subsidy recipients who live in cities will be eligible for an estimated $270,000 or more

Rank Type of recipient City to which checks are addressed Zip code States in which farms are located Estimated Freedom to Farm subsidies, 1996-2002
1 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85034 - 2010 AZ $1,492,622
2 General Partnership Dallas, TX 75201 - 8001 MS $1,417,483
3 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85034 - 2010 AZ $1,405,848
4 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85037 - 5000 AZ $1,057,686
5 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85000 - AZ $1,029,049
6 General Partnership Tucson, AZ 85719 - 2966 AZ $934,159
7 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85018 - 3347 AZ,CA $885,159
8 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93704 - 2870 CA $871,000
9 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93790 - 9050 CA $852,387
10 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85012 - 2518 AZ $799,808
11 General Partnership Tucson, AZ 85705 - 1901 AZ $790,621
12 General Partnership Los Angeles, CA 90024 - 3319 CA $786,674
13 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93701 - 1921 CA $748,419
14 General Partnership Memphis, TN 38187 - 0339 MS,TN $737,175
15 General Partnership Memphis, TN 38139 - 5416 AR $715,846
16 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85037 - 4902 AZ $688,369
17 General Partnership Memphis, TN 38187 - 0339 MS $681,552
18 General Partnership Sacramento, CA 95864 - 4932 CA $635,843
19 General Partnership Tucson, AZ 85718 - 1515 AZ $604,661
20 General Partnership Houston, TX 77057 - 1306 TX $591,113
21 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85037 - 4201 AZ $567,911
22 General Partnership Omaha, NE 68137 - 0769 NE $564,318
23 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85021 - 4404 AZ $562,669
24 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93711 - 1057 CA $560,838
25 General Partnership Sacramento, CA 95836 - 9201 CA $545,064
26 General Partnership Sacramento, CA 95836 - 9202 CA $522,086
27 General Partnership Denver, CO 80206 - 4814 CO $509,667
28 General Partnership Sacramento, CA 95837 - 9102 CA $496,381
29 General Partnership Indianapolis, IN 46241 - 9514 IN $483,927
30 General Partnership Sacramento, CA 95841 - 4548 CA $479,883
31 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93711 - 1948 CA $466,649
32 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93711 - 1152 CA $463,586
33 Joint Venture Fresno, CA 93705 - 0225 CA $457,541
34 General Partnership Sacramento, CA 95831 - 2001 CA $455,903
35 General Partnership Memphis, TN 38116 - 1802 AR $453,181
36 General Partnership Dallas, TX 75205 - 2811 AR $452,744
37 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93704 - 3015 CA $449,442
38 General Partnership Memphis, TN 38139 - 5444 MS $431,583
39 Joint Venture San Antonio, TX 78211 - 9741 TX $422,941
40 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85021 - 7241 AZ $421,886
41 General Partnership Sacramento, CA 95831 - 4320 CA $414,085
42 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93725 - CA $409,419
43 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85021 - 5479 AZ $407,342
44 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93725 - 9673 CA $401,713
45 Joint Venture Memphis, TN 38120 - 4005 MS $400,061
46 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85043 - 9804 AZ $393,326
47 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85009 - 4085 AZ $390,103
48 General Partnership Virginia Beach, VA 23457 - 1365 NC,VA $386,232      
49 Joint Venture Houston, TX 77098 - 5105 TX $386,072      
50 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93711 - 1948 CA $381,867      
51 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93711 - 2750 CA $381,351      
52 General Partnership Sacramento, CA 95833 - 9749 CA $376,586      
53 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85016 - 3401 CO $374,448      
54 Joint Venture Fresno, CA 93711 - 7014 CA $373,614      
55 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93711 - 2342 CA $368,872      
56 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93711 - 3503 CA $368,292      
57 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85028 - 2129 AZ $362,150      
58 General Partnership Sacramento, CA 95820 - 2113 CA $361,405      
59 General Partnership Omaha, NE 68118 - 2502 NE $358,999      
60 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93711 - 2451 CA $355,158      
61 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85016 - 4200 AZ $352,859      
62 General Partnership Houston, TX 77040 - 9501 TX $342,188      
63 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93725 - CA $341,151      
64 Joint Venture San Francisco, CA 94115 - 1930 CA $339,784
65 General Partnership Sacramento, CA 95827 - 1405 CA $339,585
66 General Partnership San Francisco, CA 94122 - 1311 CA $335,923
67 General Partnership Omaha, NE 68106 - 3260 NE $335,723
68 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93704 - 2208 CA $332,781
69 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93706 - 9761 CA $331,234
70 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93771 - 1006 CA $328,174
71 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85004 - 1550 AZ $326,614
72 Limited Partnership Virginia Beach, VA 23457 - 1351 VA $310,636
73 Individual Chicago, IL 60614 - 5122 IL $309,597
74 Individual Houston, TX 77041 - 6520 TX $305,695
75 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93704 - 2208 CA $302,979
76 General Partnership Indianapolis, IN 46231 - 2728 IN $299,160
77 Corporation with Stockholders Memphis, TN 38101 - 0028 TN,AR $298,390
78 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93711 - 0579 CA $297,306
79 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85043 - 9804 AZ $294,080
80 General Partnership Memphis, TN 38117 - 2313 CA $292,289
81 General Partnership Memphis, TN 38117 - 4572 AR $289,722
82 Unknown Fresno, CA 93790 - 9050 CA $289,581
83 General Partnership Fresno, CA 93704 - 2208 CA $288,916
84 Corporation with Stockholders Indianapolis, IN 46204 - IN $288,750
85 Individual Virginia Beach, VA 23457 - 1126 VA $286,535
86 Individual New York, NY 10003 - 4314 NE $286,311
87 Corporation with Stockholders Cincinnati, OH 45246 - 4514 OH $283,588
88 Corporation with Stockholders Fresno, CA 93790 - 9050 CA $283,242
89 General Partnership Phoenix, AZ 85012 - 2518 AZ $282,292
90 Trust - Revocable Fresno, CA 93704 - 2208 CA $281,660
91 Corporation with Stockholders Fresno, CA 93706 - 9344 CA $280,794
92 General Partnership Houston, TX 77024 - 7420 TX $277,745
93 Corporation with Stockholders Sacramento, CA 95815 - 3838 CA $277,711
94 Corporation with Stockholders Dallas, TX 75206 - AR $276,266
95 Joint Venture Phoenix, AZ 85016 - 2827 AZ,CO,SD $275,958
96 Individual Sacramento, CA 95837 - 9801 CA $273,665
97 Individual Houston, TX 77257 - 1745 TX $273,093
98 General Partnership Omaha, NE 68128 - 5742 NE $272,494
99 Individual Fresno, CA 93711 - 1058 CA $272,245
100 Corporation with no Stockholders Kansas City, MO 64141 - 6038 MO $270,251

Out Of State -- But Not Out of Subsidies

"Freedom to Farm" will guarantee big payments to recipients who live hundreds or thousands of miles away from the farms for which payments are made. Unlike current law, "Freedom to Farm" will not even require subsidy recipients to actually participate in the farming operations for which they receive payments. Eligibility for future payments is entirely contingent on previous eligibility, so a farmer doesn't even have to continue growing crops to receive government checks. Because subsidy recipients will not have to do anything other than own land to qualify for subsidies, "Freedom to Farm" is likely to accelerate the trend towards absentee farming at taxpayer expense.

EWG estimates that at least $1.1 billion in "Freedom to Farm" payments will be made over the next 7 years to recipients who do not even live in the same state in which their farms are located.

In some areas of the country the phenomenon of taxpayer-subsidized absentee "farming" could be especially pronounced under "Freedom to Farm." In 15 states, EWG estimates that more than 10 percent of all "Freedom to Farm" subsidies will be for farms outside the state (Table 6). Out-of-state subsidies will be especially prevalent in popular retirement states such as Florida, where EWG estimates that 50 percent of all "Freedom to Farm" potential subsidy payments ($38 million) come from outside the state. In California, we estimate that $76 million in "Freedom to Farm" payments could come from out-of-state farms. An estimated $40 million in "Freedom to Farm" subsidies will come to Arizona from outside the state.

Residents of America's resort towns will also see large subsidies under "Freedom to Farm." In cities and towns along the coast of Florida, for example, more than 3,000 subsidy recipients will be eligible to receive a total of $24.4 million in freedom to farm payments over the next 7 years. A very significant share of these potential payments will be received by farms outside the state.

Table 6: In 15 states, at least 10 percent of "Freedom to Farm" subsidies are expected to come from outside the state

State Estimated Freedom to Farm subsidies, 1996-2002 Estimated Freedom to Farm subsidies coming from outside the state Estimated percentage of Freedom to Farm subsidies coming from outside the state
California $1,347,994,818 $76,017,933 6%
Colorado $641,766,695 $69,014,120 11%
Arizona $333,479,777 $40,473,119 12%
Washington $648,656,148 $39,662,989 6%
Florida $76,158,738 $38,341,451 50%
Tennessee $330,332,937 $29,942,688 9%
New Mexico $141,082,919 $20,444,159 14%
Oregon $231,259,132 $17,607,270 8%
Virginia $106,621,746 $11,124,560 10%
Wyoming $49,061,883 $10,097,270 21%
Utah $47,284,530 $8,792,674 19%
Nevada $11,701,478 $7,763,278 66%
Maryland $70,820,122 $6,192,340 9%
Pennsylvania $111,161,468 $6,187,393 6%
New Jersey $20,714,746 $3,044,990 15%
Massachusetts $4,182,474 $2,907,418 70%
Connecticut $6,278,839 $2,758,589 44%
Arkansas $2,643,409 $2,198,094 83%
Delaware $16,094,115 $1,286,484 8%
West Virginia $10,977,347 $934,709 9%
Maine $4,246,607 $669,413 16%
New Hampshire $1,496,120 $443,622 30%
Rhode Island $323,012 $316,035 98%
Vermont $3,666,181 $274,846 7%

Source: Environmental Working Group. Compiled from USDA data.