Statement Regarding the Environmental Working Group’s New Farm Program Payment Database

Release Date: 

06/12/2007

Contact(s): 

Chuck Hassebrook, chuckh@cfra.org, (402) 687-2103 ext 1010, or; John Crabtree, johnc@cfra.org, (402) 687-2103 ext 1010, (563) 581-2867
LYONS, NE – The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released their newest and most comprehensive version of their well known and frequently criticized farm subsidy database. The new farm subsidy database includes the latest data on farm subsidies from USDA, released last fall, and known as the “1614” database after the section of the 2002 farm bill that required its release.
The Center for Rural Affairs, a long time advocate of closing loopholes in federal farm programs that allow unlimited farm payments to occur, believes that the new EWG database can help lift the veil of secrecy surrounding federal farm program payments and reveal the extent to which the nation’s largest farms benefit from existing loopholes in current statutory limits.

“The new data illustrates how the nation's largest farms exploit loopholes to exceed the limits on farm program payments. It's time for Congress to close loopholes, make the paper limits real and stop subsidizing mega farms to drive their neighbors out of business,” said Chuck Hassebrook, Executive Director of the Center for Rural Affairs.

According to the Center for Rural Affairs, the new database's ability to track farm program beneficiaries through multiple "pass-through" entities, partnerships and corporations can and should be used to examine how large, aggressively expanding operations utilize loopholes in current law to evade statutory limits. Those loopholes allow such operations to obtain the unlimited payments that they use to bid up land costs and, in the process, drive their smaller neighbors out of business.

The Center for Rural Affairs supports the proposal to close the loopholes and tighten payment caps that was recently introduced by Senator Dorgan (D-ND) and Senator Grassley (R-IA).

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