The budget battle on Capital Hill continues, with again the threat of a government shutdown looming unless Dems and Reps can reach a compromise this week.

I recently offered my own immediate solution to a large part of the deficit where I proposed saving about $150 billion a year. How? By getting the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan immediately, and by ending the War on Drugs and legalizing and taxing them as we do alcohol and tobacco. (And, no, ATF fans, I’m not coming after the F…………at least not yet.)


Now I have found another $16 billion per year that can be added to those savings. Farm subsidies.

Don’t go all teary eyed on me about how this will destroy family farms that cannot survive without these handouts. Or if you do, also go all teary eyed on college students losing Pell Grants, or cuts in food stamps for poor people or all the other proposals on the table to lay the burden of budget reform on the doorstep of the less fortunate.

It is a myth that farm subsidies are a handout…or at least a handup…to family farmers, and it has been so for quite some time.

I have happened upon a wonderful data base that details these payments from 1005-2009. Chew on these figures for a minute:

  • $246.7 billion in subsidies 1995-2009.

  • 62 percent of farmers in United States did not collect subsidy payments – according to USDA.

  • 62 percent of all farmers and ranchers do not collect government subsidy payments in United States, according to USDA.

  • Ten percent collected 74 percent of all subsidies.
  • Amounting to $157.7 billion over 15 years.

  • Among subsidy recipients, ten percent collected 74 percent of all subsidies amounting to $157.7 billion over 15 years.

  • Top 10%: $29,658 average per year between 1995 and 2009.
  • Bottom 80%: $572 average per year between 1995 and 2009

  • That data is from the website on farm subsidies of The Environmental Working Group.


    For complete information about the EWG itself, including funding and financial reports:


    Now farm subsidies are usually thought of in terms of providing assistance to farmers when weather or economic conditions take a toll on crops in a particular year. They not only help the farmers through these cyclical tough times but also serve to keep prices in control at the grocery store for you and me.

    Yes, you would think that…and you would be wrong.

    With the passage of the 2007 energy bill and 2008 farm bill, Congress has managed to devise an interlocking maze of subsidies that, taken together, force taxpayers to spend billions of dollars no matter what the condition of the farm economy.

    That is the analysis of Ken Cook, one of the founders of EWG.

    Interestingly, crop insurance, one of the major components of the program, drew this analogy from Cook:

    Even after the bitterly contested new health insurance reforms eventually take effect, most crops could fairly be said to have better coverage than many people in this country–and it’s single-payer coverage, at that (the single payer, taxpayer, being you). Taxpayer subsidized crop insurance is available to farmers if their crop is eligible for coverage in their area and provides, at no cost, 50 percent catastrophic coverage to farmers. (In 2008, just four crops–corn, cotton, soybeans, and wheat–accounted for more than two-thirds of total acres enrolled in crop insurance and for the vast majority of subsidies through the commodity programs).

    Small wonder that since 1995, America’s public option-only crop insurance program has cost taxpayers $35 billion.

    Even with all this you still might believe that when these checks go out for these subsidies, they’re addressed to homes in Nebraska or Iowa or Alabama. Would you believe a large number of them go to Manhattan? Not Kansas..New York City, where your local Farmer brown has never been quoted as saying “it’s my kind of town!”

    But Farmer Rockefeller could say that. Farmer Lauder of the Estee Lauder family could say that. So could plenty of others living in swank digs in Greenwich Village or in a condo decorated by Armani.

    This from a piece by Yasha Levine called “The Making of Manhattan’s Elite Welfare Farmers”


    Levine goes on to describe how Mark Rockefeller even double dips the system. It seems that Mark…I just feel so sympatico with the man I know we’d be on a first name basis…owns 5000 acres of farmland in Idaho, for which he receives over $54,000 a year to not grow crops.

    Right next to that farmland Mark and his wife, in 1999, (Party On, Prince) opened a fly-fishing resort, South Fork, where its visitors pay $1000 a day for the privilege of drowning worms. But as Levine recounts:

    Rockefeller gets double the welfare by gaming the generous tax breaks built into agricultural land. It appears that instead of having South Fork Lodge own the land surrounding the resort and suffer the full force of a normal property tax rate, Rockefeller has had the business buy up just enough property to house the hotel’s various structures, while he purchased all the open space the resort needed—riverfront real estate for fly-fishing, outdoor activities and background scenery—in his own name and dedicated it to farming.

    Thus it appears that, rather than cutting millions from NPR Congress could cut billions from Standard Oil.

    Ok, $150 billion in positive budget effects by ending wars and $16 billion more by dumping farm subsidies. I’ve saved this wonderful land of ours $166 BILLION already and I’m just gettin’ started!!

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    • Dallas Ware  On April 24, 2011 at 9:46 PM

      Why does’t Bohner and all them idiots read these things,check them out get the Budget down.

    Please give me your thoughts.

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