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Agency Asleep at Tractor Wheel? Rich Collect Farm Subsidies

Between 2003 and 2006 thousands of ineligible multi-millionaires cultivated farm subsidies from the US Agriculture Department. A congressional report shows that a financial firm executive, a professional sports team owner, a former executive of a technology company, and residents of Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom received thousands of dollars of taxpayer money via farm subsidies.

Officials at the Agriculture Department say they're innocent, since the congressional investigators could access IRS records off limits to them. Instead the Agriculture Department relies on a one-time self certification by those collecting that they don't make more than $2.5 million. The Agriculture Department also noted a relatively small margin of error, considering investigators found only that 2,702 (out of a total of 1.8 million) wrongly received payments during the period.

While government waste doesn't shock me, I'm curious how non-farming millionaires justified taking farm subsidies. Wait a second, considering CEOs flew to Washington in private jets to beg for taxpayer money last week, I guess none of this surprises me.

Source

beavis667 beavis667 8 years
Sure, I'm glad I could offer. It's really tough being a fiscal conservative in agriculture. I doubt there is another industry that is more subsidized and regulated than agriculture. I suppose you could make the case that the government can tell farmers whatever it feels they should be doing because they are propping up the industry so much. IMO, that's 2 wrongs making a bigger wrong. Also, it generally doesn't make farmers any better at what they do. What I've found interesting going from my years on a farm then moving to work at a large corporation is that farmers share ALOT in common with the evil corporations that the Democrats so despise. Farmers have many of the same tax breaks/loopholes at their disposal. They use every last one of them. They hire very cheap labor, work them crazy hours, and may or may not offer all the employee amenities that many city workers feel they deserve. The government sets up rules and regulations, and farmers work around them just like any corporation. The irony of it all is that Democrats have long been the champion of farmers, and have helped set up the programs, loopholes, and boondoggles that farmers enjoy. Yet, they villify corporations for doing the same thing. Republicans would like government out of industry and agriculture. At least they are true to their principles. I've often wondered why the Dems comprimise their alleged principles to offer what they do to farmers. My guess is that if they didn't, they wouldn't get a vote outside major city limits anywhere in America.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
Well, I'm glad to hear from someone with actual farming experience beavis, even if others don't think that's important.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all enjoy your subsidized food :)
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
Remember last month when you made a point, Stephley? That was awesome.
stephley stephley 8 years
I find it interesting/important that you say 'being on a farm 22 years' and not as 'someone with 22 years of farming experience'. The difference tells in your comment.
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
Oh boy, speaking of the musings of a city-slicker: "Ever heard of the Dust Bowl?" Yes, years of drought plus no/minimum till seeding was about 50 years from being invented. Can't fault "dumb farmers who need the all wise government" there. "Then Bella knows that farmers can make mistakes with their land: sometimes follow the wrong advice, sometimes push their luck in an effort to make enough money to keep going, sometimes use chemicals that make the land depend on chemicals..." Is the point that because farmers aren't perfect, they then need government? Even if your examples were plausible, they wouldn't mandate government helping dumb old farmers. A better example you could use in this debate is that a farmer may not take out the proper insurance on land, crops, or machinery. A farmer is 100% dependent on the weather for his farm to be successful. The smartest, best, most hard working farmer can have a total loss of crop with a large hailstorm, or lack of rainfall. A twister could destroy millions of dollars worth of machinery. If a farmer isn't smart enough to take out proper insurance, he will need to be bailed out by the government. Should the government mandate insurance? I would say no, you might say yes. The way we are going here in this country it's probably not outside the realm of possibility. "No one's BLAMING the farmers but they did contribute to the problem. The point is that farmers don't always or naturally know what's best for their land and yes, some are short-sighted and deplete their own land." As I noted before, farmers usually know what is best. The vast minority is short sighted and don't know what is best for them. If anything, these programs prop up their stupidity and keep them in the game. At some point economic darwinism should happen and they take up another trade.
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
"Saying the US gov't is not a farmer is a pretty simplistic way to end the discussion. Just because a person is a farmer doesn't mean they know everything there is to know about agriculture, land, new products and/or methods of farming. New methods and products are being discovered on a regular basis, and faults are found with old traditions. Not that the government knows best all the time either...but they can help each other." I can speak from from being on a farm for 22 years that the government isn't a farmer, and 99 times out of 100 knows nothing about farming. All the government can do is help monetarily. Any farmer worth his salt is on top of things when it comes to techniques, technology, and farm economics. You'd be surprised how smart good farmers are. Please tell me you have some real insight to agriculture because your last 2 sentences look like the musings of a city-slicker. No offense:)
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
Farming is the most bailed out industry in America.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
Nice, like an alley oop. Let me toss up another one. Is keeping commodity prices high the real reason for farm subsidies?
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Actually Organic, the market would sort those people out. But unfortunately the people with the farming know-how might soon be replaced with the people who know how to manipulate the subsidy programs.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
Does the market account for people who do not know how to farm their own land and therefore can't sustain it?
Jillness Jillness 8 years
Not to mention that crops and agriculture are one of the biggest products that the US exports. There is a reason it gathers so much attention and money. It is part of the power of the US. Saying the US gov't is not a farmer is a pretty simplistic way to end the discussion. Just because a person is a farmer doesn't mean they know everything there is to know about agriculture, land, new products and/or methods of farming. New methods and products are being discovered on a regular basis, and faults are found with old traditions. Not that the government knows best all the time either...but they can help each other. As I said before, I think that the subsidies need to be gone over with a fine tooth comb, but it is possible that some government recommendations might be highly valuable and not as frivolous as it appears on face value.
stephley stephley 8 years
No one's BLAMING the farmers but they did contribute to the problem. The point is that farmers don't always or naturally know what's best for their land and yes, some are short-sighted and deplete their own land.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Steph, I think mother nature had a hand in the Dust Bowl. You can't just blame the farmers.
stephley stephley 8 years
Then Bella knows that farmers can make mistakes with their land: sometimes follow the wrong advice, sometimes push their luck in an effort to make enough money to keep going, sometimes use chemicals that make the land depend on chemicals...
bellaressa bellaressa 8 years
I have, I have!!!
stephley stephley 8 years
Ever heard of the Dust Bowl?
kranky kranky 8 years
(Being a fiscal conservative is about more than just wanting to reduce wasteful government spending, but thanks for the olive branch Jill. ;) )
kranky kranky 8 years
org is absolutely right. There are many, many ways to land fertile that do not involve NOT growing things on it. George Washington Carver was involved in this kind of research, to name one.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
"In order to keep farmland in the United States fertile, it would make sense that they would encourage people to not farm all of the time." Are the farmers really so shortsighted as to deplete their own land? Aren't they aware that there are crops which replenish their soil? I think as farmers, they know how to best farm. Since the U.S. Federal Government is not a farmer, I don't think that they should be involved in figuring out crop rotations.
audreystar audreystar 8 years
I agree with Jillness. It is not good to continually farm in one location year after year. But giving land a break is not the same as never farming there again. I thought though, for the most part, the land is still farmed they just rotate the type of crops being planted every year or so on that land so as not to deplete the nutrients. :shrug:
Jillness Jillness 8 years
Ultimately, I think everyone is a "fiscal conservative" in that they do not want government waste. How many people would answer "yes" when asked if they would like their tax dollars to be squandered? Pop, while it might seem silly to encourage people to not farm land, soil gets depleted of nutrients if it is over farmed (especially with the same crops year after year). In order to keep farmland in the United States fertile, it would make sense that they would encourage people to not farm all of the time. I do think that the farm subsidies area needs massive renovation, and I do think that there are far too many subsidies being given out. However, not all of them are bad or misguided. This area needs a very fine tooth comb!
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
I think all the farm stuff needs to be rethought. My boyfriend's parents were given some land through inheritance. Somehow if they don't farm it, they're paid more than if they do farm it, in order to encourage people to let their land recover or something crazy like that. Meanwhile, they don't live anywhere near this land, and never will again in their lifetime! So they fill out some forms, and make money for not farming. It just seems so odd. Anyway, this is certainly disappointing to see. I agree that it's further proof of government waste. It's never fun to see your tax dollars hard at work like this. And I agree w/ kranky that this is one of the reason I'm a fiscal conservative as well.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
Very cute picture CG!!! Love it! Sometimes I think the "they can't do anything right" approach is just an excuse to let leaders run wild. No, they can be held accountable and things can be better run. Money can be spent more wisely. We just have to demand better, and not throw up our hands and expect it to happen. Of course I don't think it will every be completely rooted out, but there are ways to make it much, much better.
indielove indielove 8 years
The entire world! Power-hungry bastards. I LOVE it.
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