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New Info on Farm Subsidies Released

December 20, 2006 - by Donny Shaw

The USDA has just released detailed information on who has been receiving nearly $56 billion in farm subsides over the past few years. This information is coming out weeks before the 110th Congress is going to be drafting up a new six-year farm bill. Government subsidies for farmers have reached an all time high, and with lawmakers intent on reducing excess spending, it is likely that they will be looking closely at this information to see who it’s going to, and where it can be cut.

This information has supposedly been “public” in the past, but until now it has been virtually impossible to get ahold of it. The internet really makes easy information sharing like this possible. It will be interesting to see, for example, if any of the major benefactors have a business or family tie to members of Congress that approved, and pushed for them to receive money. Another pattern that we should see confirmed in the data is that seventy-two percent of the money goes to just 10 percent of the total recipients. “The big guys get bigger … the small operators are left behind,” says Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group.

Having this information be public could really affect the way farm subsidies are distributed in the future. When all the information stays on the inside we are likely to see corruption, but when the public is involved, the pressure is on to make a fairer, and hence, better bill. Hopefully next year’s bill requires this same kind of transparency.

Check out the AP story.

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