Too Much and Not Enough

Everyone knows about late night TV host David Letterman, but who knew he was a rancher on the side? Well he isn’t, but he received over $8000 in federal farm payments this past year for his Montana ranchland.

Because of loopholes in farm programs, many wealthy landowners receive thousands and sometimes millions of dollars in government subsidies whether they farm and ranch or not. Meanwhile there are genuine farmers, ranchers and rural communities that actually could use assistance.

Recently the Center for Rural Affairs released a report that looks at the inequality between what is spent on the twenty largest individual farm program recipients and what is spent on rural development in the twenty counties with the highest population loss in 13 Midwest, Great Plains and Intermountain West states. Most of the time the 20 largest farm payment recipients got a lot more money than 20 depopulation counties combined, a lot more.

Currently, farm commodity programs allows larger farm businesses to bypass normal, individual payment limitations by using loopholes that allow for the organization of businesses and corporations in ways that lead to massive payments.

As the 2007 Farm Bill is developed, Congress has an opportunity to close these loopholes and limit these payments in ways that invest in the future of rural communities, especially those communities facing economic and demographic distress. Congress has an opportunity to take a status quo that has been shown to be harmful to rural economies and rural demographics and reform it in ways that creates a future for both family-scale agriculture and rural communities.

For a full copy of the report visit: http://www.cfra/oversubsidized

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