The Daily News, Longview, Wash.: Congressional leaders continue to resist President Bush's call this year for a substantial reduction in farm subsidies. They would do well to consider an independent watchdog group's new study on subsidies collected by California growers.
The study, conducted by Environmental Working Group, shows that some of the state's largest farms receive millions of subsidy dollars each year by "double dipping." More than one-fifth of the California farms surveyed collected water subsidies worth $122 million and crop subsidies worth another $122 million in 2002, the last year in which both figures are available.
An Associated Press review of Agriculture Department records for 2000 found that almost two-thirds of the $27 billion in farm subsidies offered that year went to just 10 percent of the nation's farmers. Of the 1.6 million farm aid recipients nationwide in 2000, the average recipient got about $16,000. Some 57,500 aid recipients got more than $100,000, and around 150 recipients got more than $1 million. At least 20 Fortune 500 companies were among the top recipients, according to the AP review.
This results, in part, because of rules that base subsidy payments on farm acreage, rather than financial need.