Monday, July 23, 2007

Government gives $1.1 billion to dead farmers

From today's Washington Post:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture distributed $1.1 billion over seven years to the estates or companies of deceased farmers and routinely failed to conduct reviews required to ensure that the payments were properly made, according to a government report.

In a selection of 181 cases from 1999 to 2005, the Government Accountability Office found that officials approved payments without any review 40 percent of the time.


Last year, a Washington Post investigation of farm subsidies found more than $15 billion in wasteful or redundant spending in other farm payments, including $1.3 billion to people who do not farm and $817 million to farms that use loopholes to exceed limits.

The $1.1 billion the US government paid dead farmers is more than the 2006 budget allotted for:

-The Nuclear Facilities Safety Board ($22 million)

-Refugee programs ($889 million)

-International disaster and famine assistance ($579 million)

-Iraq relief and reconstruction fund ($10 million)

-USAID operations ($794 million)

-Nonproliferation, antiterrorism, demining, and related programs ($396 million)

-Naval petroleum reserves operations ($22 million)

-Uranium enrichment decontamination ($110 million)

-Nuclear waste program ($148 million)

-Emergency energy preparedness ($164 million)

-Food safety and inspection ($830 million)

-Consumer product safety commission ($62 million)

-Medicare prescription drug administrative expenses ($770 million)

-Armed forces retirement homes ($300 million)

-Affordable housing program ($307 million)

-High-intensity drug trafficking areas program ($200 million)

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and a critic of farm subsidies to wealthy farms requested the GAO report. Ahead of the report's release, Grassley remarked, "Farm payments are meant for those who need some help getting through the tough times...clearly there are loopholes that should be closed and laws that need to be followed."

Too bad the Senator doesn't practice what he preaches.

According the Environmental Working Group's Farm Subsidy Database, Grassley recieved over $225,041 in USDA subsidies between the years of 1995 and 2005. Grassley's son Robin has received $653,833 over the same period.

Oh the irony.

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