USDA: Oversubsidizing and Underinvesting

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John Crabtree,, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1010; or Jon Bailey,, Phone: (402) 687-2100
Lyons, NE – In 13 Midwest, Great Plains and Intermountain West states, 260 of the region’s largest farm operations received more money from USDA farm programs than all the people and communities in 260 examined counties, containing nearly 3 million people in over 1,400 incorporated municipalities, received from rural development programs according to a report released today by the Center for Rural Affairs.
Download a pdf of the full report here: An Analysis of USDA Farm Program Payments and Rural Development Funding in Low Population Growth Rural Communities

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“This bias toward the largest farm payment recipients is not just a Southern issue. Across the Midwest, Great Plains and Intermountain West, USDA farm programs continue to provide massive subsidies to a relative handful of large, aggressively expanding farm operations while maintaining a policy of indifference, denial and neglect when it comes to rural development,” said Jon Bailey, Rural Research and Analysis Director for the Center for Rural Affairs and author of the report.

The report, An Analysis of USDA Farm Program Payments and Rural Development Funding in Low Population Growth Rural Counties, examined 260 rural counties with the greatest depopulation or lowest population growth in thirteen states. Those counties received $156 million in USDA Rural Development business assistance and community infrastructure spending or about $53 per capita for nearly 3 million people over the three-year period in question. The top 20 farm program recipients in each state examined received an average of just over $1 million each, a total of $264 million, over a comparable three year period.

Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado had the greatest disparities between the top farm program recipients and rural development spending in counties suffering the greatest population loss. In Nebraska, for every USDA rural development dollar invested in these counties, six dollars went to the top 20 farm program recipients.

“As Congress develops a new Farm Bill they face a choice – continue massive subsidies to a limited number of mega-farms – or – choose strong farm programs with effective payment limits and closed loopholes as well as strong rural development programs that serve these counties and communities and the millions that live there,” concluded Bailey.

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