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The Rich Soil of Manhattan

August 29, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The farm bill that was passed by the House in July was refreshing in some ways. It set up some new programs for organics, increased investments in conservation programs, and provided more funds for renewable energy research. But it was the provision at the heart of the bill, the subsidies for growers of a select group of crops, that was most in need of an update. Unfortunately, the House failed to make any changes to that provision at all. Instead of lowering the income cap for farmers of soy, corn, and cotton (among other crops), the House extended the cap from 2002, letting farmers who make up to $1 million remain on the subsidy payroll.

This map illustrates just how out of whack the farm subsidies system is. It’s a map of Manhattan. Each red dot indicates a residency that is receiving government subsidies for growing subsidized crops; the big red dots indicate a residence that is receiving over $250,000 a year. The average price of a home in Manhattan is about $1.3 million, so obviously these are not poor and suffering farmers.

The farm bill still has to be approved by the Senate, and there is a chance that they will lower the income cap on subsidies before sending it to the President. For more on this issue, see our post from July, or check out all the news and blog coverage that’s been rolling in.

(h/t: Matt Yglesias and Yuval Levin)

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