Open Book Subsidies?
Mar 28, 2011
"The Environmental Working Group
has for more than a decade compiled a list of farmers who receive subsidies from the government, discomfiting big companies and absentee landlords (including politicians) who get the lion's share. But when the group releases its latest data this spring, the list won't be as comprehensive as it used to be.
"A provision in the 2008 farm bill lifted the requirement that the Agriculture Department compile lists of subsidies not only by the name of the farms, but also by the names of those owning the farms. Citing a lack of money, USDA has quit listing the owners. The Environmental Working Group figures that the change means its database will no longer include the names of more than a half-million farm owners.
"’Taxpayers no longer get to see where their money is going,’ says Donald Carr, a spokesman for the group. ‘When 10 percent of the largest farm operations get 74 percent of the subsidies, we no longer get to know exactly who gets what.’
"More galling, Carr says, is that the Obama administration, which promised greater transparency, is responsible for the change in practice. Who changed the law remains a mystery. Carr says his group has traced it back to the 2008 conference committee that reconciled House and Senate versions of the farm bill and changed one word, no longer requiring that USDA ‘shall’ track the payments, but that it ‘may’.
"Agriculture Department officials say compiling the data Carr wants would cost $6.7 million that they don't have. Spokesman Kent Politsch adds that the department is ‘fully complying’ with the law."
What do you think? Do you think that the United States public is entitled to know how much federal money each farmer received from government subsidies?
According to their website
, "The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to using the power of information to protect human health and the environment."
I can’t help but if an alternative motive exists.