“Too many” US farmers get subsidies

Too many wealthy farmers continue to receive US farm subsidies despite income caps meant to exclude them from participation, reported Reuters, citing a congressional report. The document also recommended that the Agriculture Department should do more to enforce the rules that ensure only deserving farmers receive payments.


The report – undertaken by the auditing branch of Congress, the General Accounting Office (GAO) – said that between 2003 and 2006 more than 2,700 ineligible people whose gross incomes were above US$2.5 million received more than US$49 million in farm subsidy payments.


The US$49 million in potential overpayments is a small percentage of total farm payments, but "that’s a lot of money that can go for school lunch programs for low-income kids, or it could be a bottom-line on the deficit," said Iowa senator Chuck Grassley, the Republican on the finance committee who asked for the GAO audit.


About US$16 billion per year goes to farmers and farm entities who participate in programs meant to stabilise incomes when prices drop or to help protect sensitive land.  However, these types of programs have long been unpopular because they are seen as encouraging overproduction, harming world markets and giving money to people who do not need it.


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