More than 2,700 farmers with incomes exceeding $2.5 million a year have received farm subsidy payments from the Federal Government, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office [GAO]. It is another example of wasteful government spending – a kind of reverse-Robin-Hood transfer payment – earning the latest Budget Boondoggle Award.
Among the highlights of the GAO report:
In 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA] handed over $49 million taxpayer dollars to 2,702 farmers with adjusted gross incomes of more than $2.5 million.
The USDA actually identified 87 of these individuals as ineligible for payments – but paid them anyway!
Nine of the subsidy recipients did not even reside in the U.S. Payments were mailed to addresses in Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong, among other locations.
One founder and former executive of an insurance company received more than $300,000 in payments over a 4-year period. An executive with a technology company received nearly $1 million in payments over the same time.
An individual with an ownership interest in a professional sports team received more than $200,000 in payments over a 4-year period.
Seventy-eight percent of the ineligible recipients lived in or near metropolitan areas – hardly the rugged agrarians of farm program mythology – continuing the USDA’s trend of paying urban farmers instead of those who actually toil on the soil.
Thus, while “wealthy” people earning $250,000 a year may worry about a forthcoming tax hike, they can make up for it by taking up farming. That way they can legally collect taxpayer-funded subsidies while earning up to $2.5 million a year – and even more if the USDA fails to fix this persistent boondoggle.