“Taxpayers are told subsidies help small, struggling family farmers —
but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Don Carr of the
Environmental Working Group, which calculated that the wealthiest 10%
of American farmers receive roughly 74% of subsidies. “We need
transparency.” But transparency has been trimmed, right along with the
USDA’s budget: The agency deemed its centralized database of subsidy
recipients too expensive to maintain, at $6.7 million, though it doled
out $15.4 billion last year in subsidies and the database enabled
watchdogs like the EWG to weed out undeserving recipients. On the
range, they might deem that penny wise and pound foolish. — AC
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