There’s an organization based out of D.C. that’s called Farm EWG (Environmental Working Group), and they have lots of numbers for Montana farm subsidies in 2016.
DNRC Trust Land Management gets the most money from the feds, with $664,000 in 2016 and $4.2 million since 2013.
This is mostly government money going to fund government programs, not those of private business.
Let’s get to the private business aspect.
The second largest beneficiary of farm subsidies in Montana is S Farms, based in Miles City. In 2016 they received $522,000 in subsidies.
When we take a closer look at S Farms we see that they took $85,000 in conservation subsidies in 2003 (the year they started taking them) and another $315,000 in commodity subsidies, for a total of $400,000 that year.
Conservation subsidies cost the federal government $5 billion a year, with most of that money going to farmers simply to keep land fallow.
In 2004 they got $397,000 and in 2005 they got $618,000.
Those numbers remained consistent until 2009, when the farm only got $5,000. That was remedied the next year, when the farm’s subsidies shot back up to $418,000.
No subsidies were taken in 2012, but then in 2013 they got $1.1 million and the next year, $1.4 million.
In total, since 2003 S Farms has taken $7.4 million in farm subsidies from the federal government.
When it comes to S Farms, the lion’s share of their subsidy money has come about because of their wheat. They’ve received $3.5 million in subsidies for this one crop alone since 2003, with another $521,000 coming from the price loss coverage program for wheat.
Another $103,000 has gone to subsidize the company’s barley; $5,000 for their dry peas; $1,000 for oats; and $400 for corn.
Lots of money.
Much of it goes to the rich and powerful. In Montana, $7 million in farm subsidy money went to legislators between 1995 and 2009.
Speaker of the Montana House, Austin Knudsen, has received $705,000 in farm subsidies.
Representative Janna Taylor got $1 million, though lamented that fact that she couldn’t “control federal tax dollars,” so had no choice but to accept that money.
Greg Gianforte invested in a company that got farm subsidies, and his share of that was $2,100.
Jon Tester, however, has taken $252,000 in farm subsidies since at least 1995.
Despite these rich farms getting subsidies, we know that 50% of Montana farms received no subsidies in the 21 years between 1995 and 2016.
The federal government usually hands out $25 billion to farmers each year in the form of subsidies, with 85% of that money going to the largest 15% of farm businesses.
Seven states receive most of these subsidies, or 45% of it, with Texas getting the most, at 9.6%. The last on the list is North Dakota, with 5.3%. Montana doesn’t make the list.
Farm EWG describes the subsidy process like so: “small commodity farmers qualify for a mere pittance, while producers of meat, fruits, and vegetables are almost completely left out of the subsidy game.”
As we saw, half of Montana farms receive no money. These are probably the smaller, family-style farms…businesses where mom and pop have jobs in town, trying their best to get everything done in the mornings, the evenings and on the weekends. The kids probably help a lot.
I’d like to see more of our subsidies got to these kinds of farms, but those in Congress do not.
Most of our congressmen are rich, however, so there’s no surprise there…same with our legislators.
The rich will always look out for themselves, and they’ll take your money to do it.
Just one more thing we let ‘em get away with here in America.