$11 Million in Farm Subsidies Paid to 50 Billionaires, as Food Stamp Program is Cut by $5 Billion
Billionaires receive farm subsidies from Washington, while poor people watch as a program that helps feed them gets slashed by billions of dollars. Welcome to the twisted world of federal policymaking.
It’s been determined that as many as 50 billionaires benefited from more than $11.3 million in agricultural subsidies either directly or indirectly (through farm businesses they invested in) between 1995 and 2012, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
While these extremely rich individuals got handouts from Washington, lawmakers slashed $5 billion from the federal food stamps program effective November 1.
And even more money may get cut from the program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The U.S. House of Representatives is debating a plan to cut another $40 billion over 10 years from SNAP, which helps provide food to nearly 47 million people.
Meanwhile, Congress is considering changes to the farm bill, which could result in millions of dollars in additional subsidies to the billionaires.
“The irony is that farm subsidies are going to billionaires at the same time that there are proposals to kick three to five million people off of food stamps,” Scott Faber, EWG’s vice president for government affairs, told The New York Times. “This clearly highlights the need for reform to our farm programs.”
Some of the billionaires who received farm subsidy assistance included:
- Paul Allen (Net worth: $15.8 billion), co-founder of Microsoft
- Charles Ergen ($12.5 billion), co-founder of DISH Network
- Philip Anschutz ($10 billion), owner of Anschutz Entertainment Group and co-founder of Major League Soccer
- Leonard Lauder ($7.6 billion), son of Estée Lauder and former CEO of the Estee Lauder Companies Inc.
- Richard DeVos ($6.8 billion), co-founder of Amway and Republican candidate for governor of Michigan in 2006
- Jim Kennedy ($6.7 billion), chairman of Cox Enterprises
- S. Truett Cathy ($6 billion), founder of Chick-fil-A
- Leslie Wexner ($5.7 billion), CEO of L Brands Inc., which owns Victoria’s Secret
- Charles Schwab ($5.1 billion), founder of brokerage firm Charles Schwab Corporation
- Stewart and Lynda Resnick ($3.5 billion), owners of POM Wonderful, Fiji Water and Teleflora
- David Rockefeller, Sr. ($2.8 billion), former chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan Bank
- Penny Pritzker ($2.2 billion), U.S. Secretary of Commerce
As many as 40 billionaires may also have received crop insurance subsidies, according to EWG, but federal law prohibits that information from being disclosed. Taxpayers pay for about 62% of those insurance premiums, which totaled $14.1 billion last year.
To Learn More:
Forbes Fat Cats Collect Taxpayer-Funded Farm Subsidies (by Alex Rindler, Environmental Working Group)
Forbes Fat Cats Collect Taxpayer-Funded Farm Subsidies: Forbes 400 Subsidy Recipients (1995 – 2012) (Environmental Working Group)
Billionaires Received U.S. Farm Subsidies, Report Finds (by Ron Nixon, New York Times)
10 Members of Congress who Receive Farm Subsidies Voted to Cut Food Stamps (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Large Corporate Farms Still Get Bulk of Federal Subsidies (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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