Jun 24, 2011  |  Today's News

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released yesterday its 2011 farm subsidy database. With farm payments front and center in budget reduction negotiations, the database will no doubt be used heavily. If you haven’t found yourself on the database yet, perhaps you should. Who better to answer questions about your own farm and community than you, right? Otherwise, EWG will do it for you.

Have you thought about your position on farm subsidies, such as direct payments, and the federal deficit? Congress certainly is.

According to the EWG press release, “The 2011 database tracks $222.8 billion in subsidies paid from 1995 to 2010. Initially published online in 2004, the EWG Farm Subsidy Database has logged 300 million searches and been widely recognized for upending outdated perceptions about who benefits from these programs.”

EWG’s press release hammers home their perspective that too many non-farmers are receiving taxpayer funded subsidies.  For example, EWG provides a list of cities over 100,000 people in which farm subsidy recipients live. In Chicago, according to EWG’s data, 734 people received $2,173,344 in payments in 2010.

Reuters reporter Charles Abbott, in his article titled, “Urbanites get $394 million of U.S. crop subsidies: group” wrote:

“Farm subsidies are often listed as an area of agreement for cuts, especially the $5 billion a year guaranteed in the so-called direct payment. The direct payment accounts for the bulk of farm program spending now due to high market prices.

Asked about subsidy reform, Stabenow told reporters, ‘People don't bring that up to me much.’ She said, ‘The bigger question is what comes out of deficit reduction talks.’

Subsidy reform is a perennially divisive issue, pitting the corn, wheat and soybean farmers of the U.S. Midwest and Plains against cotton and rice growers in the South, and large operators against small-farm advocates.”