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.