Stillwater News Press

Editorials

November 28, 2007

Poor farmers, rich farmers

The Farm Bill that Congress has been kicking around for months has a few interesting and costly features. Most interesting is the large amount of money we earned that is being handed to the nation’s biggest and richest farmers.

The Center for Rural Affairs, in Lyons, Neb., reports that some legislators are attempting to increase these already excessive payments.

The question is how much is too much. So, how much are they getting now? The top 20, more accurately the 20 richest Oklahoma farmers received $15,016,638 last year. That’s a tidy sum, about three quarters of a million each on average.

The top 20 in Missouri received $27,837,812, slightly more than the top 20 in Illinois, who received $27,808,390, averaging about $1.4 million per farmer in both states.

The largest and richest 20 farmers in all of 13 Middle America states collected $264,124,795. That’s money we earned, money they didn’t earn. Remember those small family farms politicians love to help? Well, these are they, many of them cooperate farmers. Could these be the farmers who make nice political contribution around election time? I suspect you can answer that correctly.

During the past seven years, USDA has paid $1.1 billion to deceased farmers. Then, there’s $4.7 billion in USDA improper payments. Again, our money.

The attempted Farm Bill had 2,242 earmarks; a part of the $4.2 billion in earmarks dished out this year by our politicians, with Rep. Murtha (D.-Pa.), the winner, grabbing $28.6 million.

Then, there was that tax increase the Democrats slipped into the bill at the last minute. Your tax dollars at work?

The farm bill originally contained, among other things, $1 million for a Tom Daschle Center for Public Service in South Dakota and $1 million Chinese garden in Washington, D.C. You can thank our Sen. Coburn for tossing out that pork.

Farm organizations and their lobbyists are clamoring for passage of this bill with all its blemishes, rot, misinformation and wasteful earmarks costing hundreds of millions of our dollars.

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