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Falling Crop Prices Bring Boom Times for Subsidized 'Farmers'

2014 federal legislation reformed the system by which farm subsidies are allotted, designed to save taxpayers $23 billion over a decade. However, falling crop prices mean the system could end up costing even more.
February 18, 2015, 1pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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According to The Economist, "to be treated as a farmer in America doesn’t necessarily require you to grow any crops."

The article's provocative style isn't contained just in that lede. The graphic at the top of the story includes photos of the hardly working "farmers" that have received farming subsidies from the federal government since 1995—recognizable faces like Bruce Springstreen and Jon Bon Jovi as well as Alice, Jim, and Rob Walton (of Walmart) and Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce and billionaire.

But those are only specific, high-profile offenders in a system that adds up: "According to the Government Accountability Office, between 2007 and 2011 Uncle Sam paid some $3m in subsidies to 2,300 farms where no crop of any sort was grown. Between 2008 and 2012, $10.6m was paid to farmers who had been dead for over a year."

Although Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak spearheaded 2014 legislation that "abolished direct payments based on land ownership," but the new system, coupled with falling crop prices, mean "taxpayers are braced to be fleeced again."

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Published on Saturday, February 14, 2015 in The Economist
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