Thursday, December 21, 2006

Embarrassing? He probably hasn't returned the check

Great article in the WaPo about agricultural subsidies. These subsidies are not now and never were about preserving family farms, they are about funneling taxpayer dollars to groups that have huge lobbying and campaign contribution budgets.

John Phipps of Chrisman, Ill., harvested nearly 170,000 bushels of corn and soybeans last year on two square miles of fertile soil. He grossed nearly $500,000, putting his farm in the nation's top 3 percent. Still, he received $120,000 in subsidies.

"It's embarrassing," Phipps said. "My government is basically saying I am incompetent and need help.

Several hundred miles northwest, Thomas Oswald farms the same Iowa fields that his relatives worked more than a century ago. The land he rents is about one-third the size of Phipps's, and Oswald's subsidies are much smaller. Oswald contends that federal payments are helping to fuel a spike in land prices that favors the wealthy."