During this year’s harvest, my best ever, the radio was awash with pundits analyzing this past election. Amongst all that noise, I heard this: “The farm bill represents one of the largest income redistribution programs in the U.S. today.”
When I think of government redistributing income, I think of welfare. Taxes are paid by those that made some money and the government helps out those folks that don’t have enough to live on.
Farm subsidies kind of work that way. The taxpayers pay in and the USDA redistributes that money to the largest, wealthiest farmers in the country. Kind of like Robin Hood in reverse.
The numbers are just too mind-boggling to look at nationally, so I’m only going to use direct payments and Minnesota’s take. Established in 1996, direct payment subsidies are paid without regard to the economic need of the recipients and based on the historical measure of a farm’s acres of production.
My payment this year was $3,750.
Minnesota received $2.8 billion in direct payments and 66 percent went to 10 percent of the farmers. Hader Farms of Zumbrota are No. 1, getting $2.8 million. The top 20 recipients are a who’s who of megafarms in this state.
The “safety net” is more like a financial trampoline for the largest farmers to bid up land and rent prices.
Why play the lottery when you can take this to the bank? From 2002 to 2011, Hector Farms II Partnership received $965,704 in direct payments, just barely cracking the top 20 list, coming in at No. 19. Now that’s a big door prize.
Daniel R. Jacobs, Olivia