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Report: Big Farms Get Big Money; Rural Development Needs Development

July 23, 2007

When it comes to where the U.S. Department of Agriculture spends your money, big farms are the big winners, according to a new report from the Center for Rural Affairs. Report author Jon Bailey looked at rural development funds spent in Colorado's twenty most rural counties, and he compared that to subsidies awarded to twenty Colorado farming operations. The tally: rural development, $6 million; large farm operations, $18 million.

"So, 20 people received three times as much as 20 counties. Farm program recipients received just under a $1 million per person. Communities in the counties received about $42 per capita."

He says farm subsidies are a good thing.

"But we need to combine them with strong rural development, strong entrepreneurship and non-farm business development programs."

Bailey would like to see payment limitations and the closing of some of the loopholes that allow single farms to receive huge subsidies.

"It would allow smaller farmers and beginning farmers the opportunity to participate in farming and ranching, and it would also allow for some of the money to be redirected toward community infrastructure programs."

He argues that studies have shown that huge farm subsidies don't necessarily trickle-down to local communities.

The report is available at www.cfra.org/oversubsidized.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO