How to keep them down on the farm (or wherever)

In its lead editorial today, the Wall Street Journal cited Environmental Working Group’s farm subsidy database to show the vast amount of farm subsidies that goes to people who (a) aren’t farmers, or (b) are among the wealthiest farmers in the country. Here is the WSJ’s lead:

Here’s today’s quiz: What do Scottie Pippen, David Letterman and Ted Turner have in common? Answer: None of them are farmers, but all three have received thousands of dollars in federal farm subsidies this decade.

We could add to that list of non-farmer farm-aid recipients David Rockefeller, Leonard Lauder of the cosmetics firm, Edgar Bronfman Sr. of the Seagram fortune, and Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. Our point is that you don’t have to drive a tractor, plant seeds, or even live anywhere near rural America to qualify for Uncle Sam’s farm largess. And you sure don’t have to be poor.

The WSJ hits the politicians for not reforming these programs:

Farm bills come around every five years, so this is the best chance in years for reforms that reserve farm payments for the truly needy. That this is proving so hard to accomplish tells us a lot about how this Congress puts politics over principle. About 65 cents of every farm payment dollar goes to the wealthiest 10% of farmers. Where is that Democratic devotion to class warfare when we really need it?

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Senate version of the farm bill “would bring total spending for those programs to $286 billion over the 2008-2012 period and $603 billion over the 2008-2017 period.” That’s a lot of feed to fatten farmers’ incomes even more.

Check out CEI’s video, “Farming for Dollars” on YouTube for more facts and figures — and who pays for these bloated programs.