During the Great Depression, the federal government started subsidizing family farmers who faced ruin because of unpredictable weather and dips in crop prices. Seven decades after the dust bowl years, the subsidy program has morphed into a gigantic giveaway for mega-farms, wealthy investors who may never set foot on their land and even dead farmers, whose estates exist only to collect the subsidies.
More than 90% of farm subsidies go to the growers of such politically favored staples as wheat, corn, cotton, soybeans and rice. Because payments increase as a farmer plants more, these handouts encourage farmers to grow surplus crops. Other farmers are paid not to grow crops as a way to conserve the soil.
[Ted Turner], 66, the CNN founder and philanthropist, received $491,179 in subsidies and farmland conservation payments for farms in South Dakota, Nebraska and Florida. And Pippen, 39, the former NBA star, got $210,520 for conserving farmland in Arkansas.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.