Millionaires Receive the Majority of US Farm Subsidies

Tony Gosling tony at
Mon Feb 27 23:08:53 GMT 2012

Subsidizing Biotech and Big Ag, Informational Video

Millionaires Receive the Majority of Farm Subsidies
Posted By Dr. Mercola | February 27 2012 | 17,322 views

A more accurate picture, as summarized concisely 
in the Organic Consumers Association video above, 
is this: those "real" farmers, the ones who truly 
need it, receive only a few thousand dollars a 
year, maybe less, while the rest serves to line 
the pockets of the millionaire "farmers" who own 
massive factory farms and who have probably 
rarely spent a day with their hands in the dirt.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG),i between 1995 and 2010:
10 percent of farmers collected 74 percent of all 
subsidies, amounting to nearly $166 billion over 16 years
62 percent of U.S. farmers did not collect subsidy payments
The bottom 80 percent of recipients averaged just $587 a year

Now, if you look at the leading recipients of 
commodity subsidies, you'll see the highest 
earners received payments numbering in the 
hundreds of millions from 1995-2010 for the top 
three! Unfortunately, the USDA is far from 
transparent with their subsidy data, and EWG was 
not able to track down who is actually receiving 
this money, as recipients of payments made 
through most cooperatives, and the amounts, have not been made public.

However, as EWG explained, it is clear that many 
of the recipients are not exactly losing their 
shirts over a dip in market prices for grain:ii 
As critics have put it, this is essentially giving "welfare to millionaires."

 despite lawmakers' boasts of enacting major 
reforms in the 2008 farm bill, the new data 
clearly show that wealthy absentee land owners 
and mega farms awash in record income are once 
again the main beneficiaries of federal farm 
programs – while struggling family farmers go begging.

And once again, the database shows that many farm 
subsidy recipients get those fat government 
checks at addresses in New York City, Miami, 
Chicago and Los Angeles – not exactly farm 
country, and a far cry from the programs' 
original intent. 
 The database revealed, for 
example, that Florida real estate developer 
Maurice Wilder, reportedly worth $500 million, 
was pulling in almost $1 million a year in farm 
subsidies for corn farms he owns in several states."
And Then There are the Recipients Who are Not Even Farmers at All 

The absurdity of federal farm subsidies gets 
worse still, as even non-farmers who moved into 
residential areas that once were farmland have 
received farm subsidy payments from the 
government, as have wealthy farmers who have 
received annual payments even when they are no 
longer growing the subsidized crop.

In 2008, the "actively engaged" rule was put 
forth specifically to nip this type of fraud in 
the bud. As its name implies, only those who are 
"actively engaged" in farming are supposed to be 
receiving the subsidies. But, alas, when EWG 
released its updated database in 2011, they found 
no changes to the status quo:iii

"Despite this rule, subsidies still line the 
pockets of absentee land owners and investors 
living in every major American city. In 2010, 
7,767 residents of just five Texas cities – 
Lubbock, Amarillo, Austin, San Angelo and Corpus 
Christi – collected $61,748,945 in 
taxpayer-funded subsidies. Residents of Lubbock 
booked $24,839,154 in payments, putting it at the 
top of cities with 100,000+ populations that are 
home to farm subsidy recipients. The phenomenon 
of urban residents receiving federal farm 
payments remains widespread and coast-to-coast."
Mega-Farms Receive Fixed Annual Cash Payments, Whether They Need Them or Not

You may also be surprised to learn that while 
farm subsidies initially were created to protect 
staple crops during times of war, reduce crop 
surpluses and provide monetary support to farmers 
when crop prices fell, today mega-farms receive 
subsidies whether they need them or not.

The transition away from a needs-based system 
came in 1996, when lawmakers developed a "market 
transition" payment system for farmers. The idea 
was to phase out the subsidies over a seven-year 
transition period, during which farmers would 
receive an annual fixed cash payment based upon 
the number of acres on the farm (these direct 
payments were given as long as the land was not 
developed -- even if nothing was planted).

Of course, this ensures that the largest farms 
also receive the largest payments, and contrary 
to its original intent, the payments have not 
declined annually nor has the program gone away. 
It still exists today. EWG reported:iv

"Farm programs turned into a cash crop for big 
agribusinesses, which co-opted federal policy and 
turned it into a perennial giveaway that 
disproportionately benefits large landowners and 
wealthy farm operations. And that remains the reality today.

The industrial agriculture lobby has been 
defending the controversial "direct payment" form 
of taxpayer-funded subsidies ever since they were 
first authorized. These fixed, automatic checks 
go out every year to the largest growers of 
commodity crops, such as corn and cotton, whether 
farmers need them or not and despite the fact 
that farm household income has eclipsed average 
U.S. household income. Farm income for the 
largest operations, in particular, has soared sky high."
Subsidies Support Junk Food Diets, Chronic 
Disease and Environmentally Devastating CAFOs

The farm subsidy program is upside down not only 
in which farmers it chooses to support, but also 
in which foods it funds. Have you ever noticed 
that it's often cheaper to buy a loaf of bread 
than a pound of broccoli or even a pound of 
ground beef than a similar amount of green 
peppers? Or have you wondered how you can get a 
value meal at numerous fast-food restaurants for 
far less money than it takes to purchase foods to 
make a healthy meal, such as organic chicken and 
fresh veggies, for your family at home?

Perhaps this disparity has struck you as odd. 
After all, what makes vegetables more expensive 
than bread or meat? It's clearly nothing inherent 
to their growing requirements. Instead, it's the 
direct result of government farm subsidies, which 
favor the very foods you should eat less of if you want to stay healthy.

The top four most heavily subsidized foods? Corn, wheat, soybeans and rice.

By subsidizing these, particularly corn and soy, 
the U.S. government is actively supporting a diet 
that consists of these grains in their processed 
form, namely high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), 
soybean oil, and grain-fed cattle – all of which 
are now well-known contributors to obesity and chronic diseases.

Many of these subsidized grain crops are also 
used for animal feed, animals raised on confined 
animal feeding operations (CAFOs). As it stands, 
2 percent of U.S. livestock facilities produce 40 
percent of farm animals,v and these large, 
corporate-owned CAFOs have been highly promoted 
as the best way to produce food for the masses 
(beef is also the seventh most heavily subsidized 
food). In reality, it has lead to an abundance of 
cheap food, but not without serious consequences:

Loss of water quality through nitrogen and 
phosphorus contamination in rivers, streams and 
ground water (which contributes to "dramatic 
shifts in aquatic ecosystems and hypoxic zones")
Agricultural pesticide contamination to streams, 
ground water and wells, and safety concerns to 
agricultural workers who use them
A decline in nutrient density of 43 garden crops 
(primarily vegetables, which suggests "possible 
tradeoffs between yield and nutrient content)
Large emission of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide
Negative impact on soil quality through such 
factors as erosion, compaction, pesticide 
application and excessive fertilization

A classic video on the U.S. government's fatally 
flawed agricultural subsidy programs, and how 
they affect your nutritional choices and health, 
is "How to Get Fat Without Really Trying" with 
Peter Jennings. Although it's several years old 
and Peter has passed away, the video still speaks 
the truth because virtually nothing has changed. 
If anything, the situation has actually worsened.

Help Prompt Change by Supporting Small Organic Farmers

It may be tempting to buy the cheap foods that 
the government is "paying you" to eat 
 but this 
choice will come back to haunt you in the form of 
health problems and increased medical bills later 
on. Try as they may, industry lobbyists still 
cannot force you to buy subsidized junk foods and 
foods raised in unhealthy "agribusiness" 
conditions. The choice is entirely yours, and 
consumer demand will always win eventually, so 
the more you demand healthy, unadulterated foods, 
the more they must produce, one way or another.

I strongly encourage you to support small family 
farms in your area, especially those that are 
embracing organic and traditional farming 
practices. These are the real farmers who need 
your support, and who are growing food that will 
nurture your health instead of harm it. 

+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic 
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung

Fear not therefore: for there is nothing covered 
that shall not be revealed; and nothing hid that 
shall not be made known. What I tell you in 
darkness, that speak ye in the light and what ye 
hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Matthew 10:26-27

Die Pride and Envie; Flesh, take the poor's advice.
Covetousnesse be gon: Come, Truth and Love arise.
Patience take the Crown; throw Anger out of dores:
Cast out Hypocrisie and Lust, which follows whores:
Then England sit in rest; Thy sorrows will have end;
Thy Sons will live in peace, and each will be a friend. 
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