Corporate Farming Notes

According to Chris Willis, KXAN Lead Investigative Reporter in Austin, Texas, some of Texas’ wealthiest corporations save tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes under a provision of the Texas constitution that allows for reduced valuations of land used for farming and ranching.

However, when Circuit of the Americas built a Formula One racetrack near Elroy, Texas, the company designated 617 acres for “agricultural use.” Circuit of the Americas told Willis that the land produces no sports entertainment or agricultural revenue. Estimated property taxes on the 617 acres would be $171,209 per year at market value. With the special agricultural designation the company pays only $1,563.

Brazilian-based meatpacking corporation JBS USA has reportedly secured an option to purchase two additional US beef packing plants in Nampa, Idaho, and Omaha, Nebraska. With a combined daily slaughter capacity of 2,200 head for the two plants, the acquisition would increase JBS daily slaughter capacity from 26,300 to 28,500 head.

The company would control over 30 percent of the US fed cattle market. The purchase would move the world’s largest meatpacking corporation from 3rd to 1st largest among American beef packers. Another byproduct: control of the fed cattle market held by the four largest packers would increase to over 85 percent.

Crop insurance premium subsidies cost taxpayers $7.4 billion in 2011. And 26 farm corporations received more than $1 million each in crop insurance premium subsidies in 2011 alone.

The Heritage Foundation’s Romina Boccia reports that in 2011, the federal government provided $1.3 billion to cover the administrative and operating expenses of crop insurance companies. That translated into $1.7 billion in profits and a 30 percent average return on investment, according to Bloomberg.

While not directly involved in agriculture, crop insurance companies are certainly “farming” something.