Part of tradition of payments not to plant
July 25, 2007
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sent $1.1 billion in farm payments to over 170,000 dead people over a seven-year period, according to congressional investigators. The USDA directs money to farmers who don’t plant crops so prices will be higher for the crops the rest of the farmers plant and sell. This “subsidy support system” keeps farmers in business for future planting when the government feels more crops are needed. The program has now been extended to pay farmers who are dead so that they will be willing to come back to life and grow corn when necessary.
Government Accountability Office (GAO) auditors reviewed payments from 1999 through 2005 and found that the Department was basically paying anyone who thought they were a farmer. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee requested the study because he was worried that Iowa farmers weren’t getting their fair share. “If dead farmers are getting money, it’s important that dead Iowa farmers get what’s coming to them too,” said Grassley. “It’s really not so bad to pay dead folks; some of them are more productive than live ones. You ever been at one of these Finance Committee meetings?”
Congressional leaders aren’t sure what to do about the study. Some want the money back but others are more philosophical. “You really can’t ask dead folks to give the money back,” said Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. “Besides, I think these farmers will come back from the dead and raise soybeans if we ask them. These folks have strong Midwestern values.”
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns said the GAO was trying to report on a program that it simply didn’t understand. “The GAO is made up of numbers people and not political people,” said Johanns in a prepared statement. “The USDA gives food stamps to people who don’t work, we pay farmers who don’t plant, we pay the living and we pay the dead, we pay an enormous staff — I don’t know what half of these people are supposed to be doing. This is no big deal.”
© 2007 Inebriated Press