The video above and this report below are from CBS News:
When the Senate votes on passing the new bipartisan farm bill today, it’s deciding on $956 billion tax dollars in spending over 10 years (Note: the bill just passed 68-32). The bill itself is 949 pages. That averages out to over a billion dollars per page.
The farm bill has long been a target of taxpayer watchdog groups who criticize many provisions as welfare for corporate giants and special interests. According to US PIRG, the confederation of state Public Interest Research Groups, four percent of agribusiness collected 74 percent of the farm bill subsidies in recent years. Some of the biggest recipients of farm subsidies include Tyson’s Food, Pilgrim’s Pride and Riceland Foods.
“At a time of supposed fiscal caution, this bill would put taxpayers on the hook for another five years of billion-dollar handouts to huge, profitable agribusiness,” says PIRG’s Dan Smith. “These subsidies are pure and simple a boon for special interests, at the expense of average taxpayers.”
According to the USDA, the $1 trillion farm bill will provide “a dependable safety net for America’s farmers, ranchers and growers. It would maintain important agricultural research, and ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all Americans.”
And yet, according to data from the USDA’s website, it’s not clear that Big Farm really needs a “dependable safety net.” The combined net income of US farmers more than doubled over the last four years, from $60.4 billion in 2009 to an all-time high last year of $131 billion (see brown bars in the chart below). Further, Big Farm’s net worth reached an all-time high last year of $2.7 trillion (see blue bars below), which works out to an average of more than $1.2 million in net worth for each of the nation’s 2.17 million farmers. In other words, the average farmer in America today is a millionaire based on net worth – do they really still need taxpayer life support?