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Taxpayers Paid $6.2 Million in Farm Subsidies to Members of Congress, Families


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By: Environmental Working Group (EWG)

WASHINGTON, D.C. June 28, 2012 - Environmental Working Group's latest update of the EWG farm subsidy database shows that 23 members of Congress, or their family members, benefitted from $6,196,204 in taxpayer-funded farm subsidy payments between 1995 and 2011. The much-referenced database tracks $240 billion in commodity, crop insurance, and disaster programs and $37 billion in conservation subsidies paid to farmers in that period.

"Members of Congress who receive farm subsidies are part of a system that cries out for reform and poses stark choices between propping up the largest and most successful businesses or helping working farmers, struggling families and the environment," said Craig Cox, senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources at EWG.

According to EWG's analysis of the data, derived from U.S. Department of Agriculture records, among those members of the House of Representatives who received substantial subsidies were:

• Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn. and his wife received $3,528,295
• Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D received $480,790
• Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa received $328,846

The distribution of subsidies among lawmakers reflects the highly distorted distribution of farm subsidies in the U.S. Just five crops – corn, cotton, rice wheat and soybeans – account for 90 percent of all farm subsidies. Since 1995, just 10 percent of subsidized farms have raked in 75 percent of all subsidy payments.

"These farm payments are not improper or illegal, but they do create a conflict of interest for these members of Congress," said Cox. "Some of them are major players in the 2012 farm bill debate and all of these lawmakers will be forced to cast a vote on the final bill."

The recently passed Senate farm bill would do away with the discredited direct payments, which go out regardless of economic need and cost taxpayers $5 billion a year. However, it includes a provision to replace those wasteful subsidies with another potentially more expensive entitlement that would guarantee income for the same farm businesses that have benefitted from the lion's share of traditional farm subsidies.

The same congressional families that benefitted from farm subsidies have likely received crop insurance premium subsidies too. That question cannot be answered until Congress changes the law that bars the federal government from releasing recipients' names. An EWG analysis found that 26 policyholders nationwide each received more than $1 million in premium subsidies and more than 10,000 policyholders each received $100,000 or more in 2011. With the identities of individuals cloaked, it is not possible to establish the extent to which members of Congress and their families reaped crop insurance subsidies.

"We are deeply disturbed by the public's inability to see who gets what when it comes to taxpayer-funded insurance subsidies," said Scott Faber, EWG vice president of government affairs. "The names of recipients should not be a state secret."

EWG supported a farm bill amendment introduced by Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and John McCain, R-Ariz. that would have lifted the veil of secrecy that has protected crop insurance subsidy recipients' identities for more than a decade, but it was never considered on the Senate floor.

"House lawmakers have a real opportunity to increase government transparency and make meaningful reforms that will create a safety net for working family farmers who need the help and will improve America's diets and protect the environment," Faber said.

Members of Congress who have received checks from the federal government include:

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (in alphabetical order)

Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.)

Aderholt's wife, Caroline Aderholt, is a 6.3 percent owner of McDonald Farms according to ownership records as of 2008. McDonald Farms received a total of $3,262,386 in federal farm subsidies between 1995 and 2011. She received $1,101 in commodity subsidies directly between 2009 and 2011.

EWG's estimate of farm subsidies to Caroline Aderholt, using the percentage share information received by USDA, comes to $206,631.

Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa)

Boswell is listed as directly receiving a total of $16,235 in subsidies between 2001 and 2008.

Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.)

Campbell is listed as a 1.5 percent owner of the Campbell/McNee Family Farm LLC according to ownership records as of 2008. The farm received a total of $16,876 in federal farm subsidies between 2007 and 2011.

EWG's estimate of the farm subsidy benefits Campbell received, based on the percentage share, is $253.

Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.)

Costa is listed as a 50 percent owner of Lena E Costa Living Trust, which received $2,494 in federal farm subsidies between 2006-2007.

EWG's estimate of farm subsidy benefits Costa received, based on the percentage share information submitted to USDA, is a total of $1,247 between 2006 and 2007.

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas)

Farenthold received a total of $1,205 in farm subsidies directly from USDA between 1999 and 2005.

Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.)

Fincher is listed as directly receiving a total of $114,519 from USDA between 1995 and 1999. Fincher's farm, Stephen & Lynn Fincher Farms, is also listed in the EWG database as receiving a total of $3,413,776 between 1999 and 2011. Fincher and his wife Lynn are each 50 percent partners in that farm.

EWG's estimate of the farm subsidy benefits Fincher and his wife received totaled $3,528,295 between 1995 and 2011.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.)

Hartzler is listed in the EWG Farm Subsidy Database, but no subsidies were directly paid to her. Her husband, Lowell Hartzler is listed as 98 percent owner of Hartzler Farms, which received a total of $820,768 in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2011. His ownership percentage rose from 53 percent in the years up to 2005 to 98 percent in 2006.

EWG's estimate of the farm subsidy benefits Lowell Hartzler received, based on the percentage share information (assumed to be 53 percent prior to 2006) supplied to USDA, totaled $514,645 between 1995 and 2011.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.)

Holt is listed as a 10.5 percent owner of Froelich Land Trust No. 1, which received at total of $34,623 in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2011. Holt's wife, Margaret Lancefield, is listed as a 25 percent owner of Lancefield Farm, which received a total of $24,681 in subsidies between 1996 and 2011.

EWG's estimate of the farm subsidy benefits Holt received, using the percentage share information provided to USDA, is a total of $9,806 between 1995 and 2011.

Rep. Timothy Huelskamp (R-Kan.)

Huelskamp is listed as directly receiving $258 in 2002.

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.)

Kline's wife, Vicky Sheldon Kline, is listed as a 20 percent owner of Sheldon Family Farms LP, which received a total of $29,717 between 2000 and 2011.

EWG's estimate of the farm subsidy benefits Ms. Kline received, based on the percentage share information supplied to USDA, is a total of $5,943 between 2000 and 2011.

Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa)

Latham is listed as part owner of four entities: 33 percent owner of Latham Seed Co., which received a total of $448,925 in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2003; 25 percent owner in Latham Hospital Farm, which received a total of $76,612 between 1995 and 2001; 25 percent owner in Latham Kanawha Farm, which received a total of $15,648 between 1995 and 2001; and 3 percent owner in DTB Farms LLC, which received a total of $552,017 between 2003 and 2008.

EWG's estimate of farm subsidy benefits Latham received, based on the percentage share information submitted to USDA, is a total of $328,846 between 1995 and 2008.

Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.)

Lummis is listed as a 31.3 percent owner of Lummis Livestock, which received a total of $47,093 in farm subsidies in between 1996 and 2002. Lummis listed her ownership of Lummis Livestock in her 2009 financial disclosure form.

EWG's estimate of the farm subsidy benefits Lummis received, based on the percentage share information submitted to USDA, is a total of $14,289 between 1996 and 2002.

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas)

Neugebauer is involved in two business entities. He owns 50 percent of Lubbock Land Company Five LTD, which received a total of $3,369 in farm subsidies between 1998 and 2003. He also owns 50 percent of Lubbock Land Company Two LTD, which received a total of $4,608 in farm subsidies in between 1998 and 1999. Neugebauer's financial disclosure forms for 2009 do not list either company.

EWG's estimate of farm subsidy benefits Neugubauer received, based on the percentage share information submitted to USDA, is a total of $3,989 between 1998 and 2003.

Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.)

Noem is listed as having a 13.5 percent share in Racota Valley Ranch between 2000 and 2001 and a 16.9 percent share between 2002 and 2008. Racota Valley Ranch received a total of $3,198,617 in farm subsides between 1995 and 2011. Noem's 2009 financial disclosure form listed her as a partner in Racota Valley Ranch.

EWG's estimate of farm subsidy benefits Noem received, based on the percentage share information submitted to USDA, is $480,790.

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.)

Peterson is listed as receiving a total of $828 between 2005 and 2009.

Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-Mont.)

Rehberg received a total of $7,971 directly from USDA between 1995 and 2002. Rehberg's wife, Jan Rehberg, also received $1,455 directly from USDA between 2008 and 2011. Jan Rehberg also has ownership in two entities that received payments. She has a 33 percent stake in Lenhardt Property LP, which received a total of $1,039 between 2006 and 2011. She also has a 5.6 percent stake in Teigen Land and Livestock Company, which received a total of $31,890 between 2002 and 2003.

EWG's estimate of farm subsidy benefits Rehberg and his wife received, based on the percentage share information provided to USDA, is a total of $11,418 between 1995 and 2011.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.)

Stutzman is listed as directly receiving a total of $190,226 in farm subsidies between 1997 and 2011.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas)

Thornberry listed as William M. Thornberry, directly received a total of $4,306 in farm subsidies from USDA between 1995 and 1999. Thornberry is also a one-third owner of Thornberry Brothers, which received a total of $76,401 in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2011. His financial disclosure form in 2009 lists him as an owner in Thornberry Brothers Cattle.

EWG's estimate of the farm subsidy benefits Thornberry received, based on the percentage share information provided to USDA, is a total of $29,773 between 1995 and 2011.

US SENATE (in alphabetical order)

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)

Bennet's wife, Susan Daggett, is listed in his 2010 financial disclosure forms as 5.5 percent owner of Daggett Farms LP and LMD Farms LP. Daggett Farms LP received a total of $268,969 in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2011.

EWG's estimate of farm subsidy benefits Daggett received, based on the percentage share information provided to USDA, is a total of $20,419 between 1995 and 2011.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

Grassley is listed as directly receiving a total of $316,535 in federal farm subsidies between 1995 and 2011.

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.)

Lugar is listed as a 9.39 percent owner of Lugar Stock Farm. His wife, Charlene Smeltzer , is listed as a 7.42 percent owner in Lugar Stock Farm. Lugar Stock Farm received a total of $168,343 in farm subsidies in between 1995 and 2011.

EWG's estimate of the farm subsidy benefits Lugar and his wife received totals $28,304 between 1995 and 2011.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)

Tester received a total of $177,744 directly from USDA between 1995 and 2011. Testers' wife, Sharla, is listed as a 50 percent owner of T-Bone Farms – Tester is listed as owning the other 50 percent. T-Bone farms received a total of $306,638 in federal farm subsidies between 1995 and 2011.

EWG's estimate of the farm subsidy benefits Tester and his wife received, based on percentage share information provided to USDA, is a total of $484,382 between 1995 and 2011.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

EWG'S estimate of the farm subsidy benefits Hatch and his wife received, based on the share information provided to USDA regarding Ms. Hatch's share of Edries N Hansen Properties LLC which received $189,026 in subsidies between 2008 and 2011, is a total of $1,890 between 2008 and 2011.

 

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