Ever wonder why changing America's farm subsidies is so difficult? Well, the Environmental Working Group, a Washington nonprofit that has been battling subsidies for years, has a nifty little chart out today.
It looks at the 18 members of the House agriculture subcommittee that oversees those subsidies (the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee). And it turns out that, according to EWG's number-crunching from 2003 to 2005, 23 percent of all subsidies go to farming interests in those members' districts.
Their total combined windfall? $10 billion. Many of those districts are among the top recipients in the country. The No. 1 recipient, however, is not. That title belongs to the district of Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska, a member of the main House Committee on Agriculture. His district received $1,736,923,011 in subsidies over the three-year period, according to EWG.
As Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau, told U.S. News recently: "When you get down to the basic politics of the farm bill debate, you have a very strong group of core people on the agriculture committee who have agriculture in their district. They're going to be paying attention to the agriculture concerns."
U.S. News's recently profiled Sen. Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican, and his long struggle to reform farm subsidies.
-- Silla Brush