Farm Subsidies for Forbes 400?

April 21, 2016 12:00 PM
Farm Subsidies for Forbes 400?

In an analysis that’s sure to get under the skin of farmers and taxpayers, the Environmental Working Group recently compared its database of farm subsidy payments against the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans and found a number of matches.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), 50 people on the Forbes 400 list received more than $6 million in farm subsidies over the past 10 years. Among the recipients: Minnesota Timberwolves and Star Tribune owner Glen Taylor ($857,000 in subsidies from 1995 to 2014), Bass Pro Shop owner John Morris ($110,000), and oil and gas heir Lee Bass ($1.1 million).

The average net worth of members of the Forbes 400 list? A whopping $1.7 billion.  However, that number is even higher for Forbes 400 members who also received farm subsidies: $331.4 billion, according to EWG.

“Of the 50 billionaires, 46 grow corn, soybeans, sorghum, cotton, rice and barley – commodities that are eligible for both traditional farm subsidies and crop insurance subsidies,” the Environmental Working Group says. “Only two of the billionaires exclusively raise livestock, which aren’t eligible for subsidies but qualify for disaster assistance.”

Such practices may be changing. “Traditional commodity subsidies are subject to a modest means test that was tightened under the 2014 Farm Bill,” according to EWG.

The report did not cover the federally subsidized crop insurance program, which is frequently criticized by EWG. 

Do you think billionaires should be allowed to qualify for and collect farm subsidy payments? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments. 

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Spell Check

Pierre, SD
4/22/2016 08:53 AM

  Nothing will surprise me. The wealthy will continue to get wealthier, and the poor will just "Whine", ad beg for government help. There should be a "test" of "real need". I look at the trend of "numbers of REAL farms" (not the hobby farmers of less than 500 acres) And we are becoming a country with a number of REAL LARGE farms. The trend is in motion. I see nothing stopping it. And soon the majority of food, including meats and diary, will be controlled by a very small number of extremely LARGE farms, and then the American consumer WILL PAY a higher price for their food. And the percentage of disposable income that Americans pay for food, will fall more into line with the rest of the world, because these VERY FEW MEGA FARMS will control the price. They will set the price!! I believe that "The Face of the American Farmer" will change dramatically over the next couple of decades, as the older farmers exit production agriculture, and the mega farms further consolidate.


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