Monday, December 08, 2008

Another Face of Farming

As noted in a recent post, Payment Limitations and Headlines, the GAO recently called out the USDA regarding abuses under the payment limitation provisions that are supposed to limit the amount of government payments that farmers receive under the federal farm programs. Its report, Federal Farm Programs: USDA Needs to Strengthen Controls to Prevent Payments to Individuals Who Exceed Income Eligibility Limits.
GAO found that of the 1.8 million individuals receiving farm payments from 2003 through 2006, 2,702 farmers had an average adjusted gross income (AGI) that exceeded $2.5 million and derived less than 75 percent of their income from farming, ranching, or forestry operations, thereby making them potentially ineligible for farm payments. Nevertheless, USDA paid over $49 million to these individuals.
Showing a very different side of American agriculture, NPR did a story this morning on a farmer in Southern Illinois that is now forced to see his small and beloved herd of cattle because of financial problems due largely to feed costs, Struggling Illinois Farmer's Hard Choice Deep.

Amid the talk of bail outs and support for various industries, the contrast between these two stories begs the question - who do we want to support? Who do we want growing our food?


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