Washington Post: Why are we still subsidizing wealthy farmers?

Actually, farming no longer resembles the hardscrabble family enterprise of so much mawkish marketing. Much of it is dominated by large operators supplying not only the U.S. dinner table but also far-flung export markets. Notwithstanding a major drought, net farm income for 2012 reached $112.8 billion, according to the Agriculture Department, down only slightly from the previous year’s record of $117.9 billion in 2011. USDA expects farm income to hit a post-1973 high of $128.2 billion in 2013. …

Farmers are wealthy, the U.S. food supply is not remotely at risk — and yet the government still piles on the subsidies. They totaled an annual average of $11.5 billion over the past four years, according to USDA. …

But limiting agricultural corporate welfare to a quarter-million dollars per couple is a far cry from a total rethink of farm policy, which might start with this question: Perhaps God made the farmer, as Paul Harvey says. But does the federal taxpayer have to make him rich?

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • awfulorv

    I believe the government could operate quite efficiently with only 75% of the revenue they presently strong arm the taxpayers out of. The Ethanol Mandates would be a great place to start.

    • sbark

      Didnt you hear…..its not a spending problem, its a problem of taxpayors not wanting to pay for the free stuff they demand from the govt………..
      Elimination of the Home Mtg Int. deduction would raise trillions in govt Revenue overa 5 yr period…………..vrs elimination of the ethanol Mandate (which is simply a position statement) zero………
      ……..ethanol drops gas price 1.09 per gal…………think 5.00 instead of now approaching 4.00…….that cheaper gasoline would let you pay the extra tax’s to Obama from the loss of the Home Mtg Int. deduction……….what a deal

      • JoeMN


        Actually, it’s the other way around.

        Gasoline prices are being distorted by ethanol ,mandates.

        If we were to allow the free market to function and, as you say ethanol would allow for a product at a cheaper price,( -$1.09/gal) then blenders would be more than willing to include it.

        Last year the ethanol plant here took in all their contracted corn early, then simply shut down as they became unprofitable and corn supplies dwindled.

        I believe Valero did the same to a couple plants.
        This should be an alarming wake up call to statist planners.
        But unfortunately it wasn’t
        I think we can both agree that raising the mandate at this time would prove disastrous minus a bigger pile of corn.

        But what happens if the economy improves, along with demand for gasoline ?
        We may find out what life was like in the Soviet Union, with plenty of rubles, but nothing to buy.

      • toomuchguvmint
  • WOOF

    We subsidize wealthy farmers cause they kick back
    much more than poor farmers.

    • JoeMN

      When we subsidize the wealthy farmer at the expense of the beginning farmer.

      • JoeMN

        More to the point, we subsidize the EXISTING farmer at the expense of the beginning farmer.

        • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

          You’re making the Dalyrymples sad.

  • toomuchguvmint

    Not all farmers want the federal government manipulating land prices as well as targeting the largest farmers with the largest government benefits as well as the largest investment/profit guarantees. Congress needs to be prohibited
    from engaging in the selective
    agricultural investment and profit guaranteeing business. Their sorry record of targeting select
    farmers with highly discriminatory multimillion dollar investment/profit
    guaranteeing policies has destroyed countless rural communities by neutering
    the ability of smaller farmers to compete.
    To guarantee that the largest and obviously potentially most profitable
    business always will have a vastly superior incomes renders the smaller
    farmers incapable of competing in this highly competitive business. If congress is going to be involved in the
    safety net business all farmers are equally deserving of
    comparably valued safety nets.

  • sbark

    probably for the same reason we subsidize wealthy homeowners with the Mtg Int. deduction. For the same reason we subsidize those wealthy witH IRA dedcutions, college tuition credits, Health Ins tax credit………all things Indiv should do on their own.
    we subsidize farmers because they allow all those above to eat at 9% of disposable income, half the cost of the nearest country Germany at 18%……….and that is after they have lowered the price of gas by 1.09 per gallon with risking a life of a soilder overseas.

    For a 25% cut of the Farm bill……..consumers litterlly get trillions of cheaper food, fuel, clothing that counterparts across the world………….its why they can pocket iphones and PS3, laptops and 65″ flatscreens.