Four of the 19 Wisconsin Republican State Senators annually applied for and received direct farm subsidies from the federal government. These are the same people who want government spending limited, apparently except when it comes to their own welfare checks.
- Michael Ellis of the 19th District received payments totaling $226,155 from 1995 through 2009 for a farm in Bloomington, WI
- Sheila Harsdorf of the 10th District, is 50% owner in Trim-bel Valley Farms in River Falls WI, received payments totaling $194,763 from 1995 through 2009.
- Luther Olsen of the 14th District, 20% owner in Riverview Farm, received payments totaling $84,232 from 1999 through 2009
- Dale Schultz of the 17th District received payments totaling $61,171 from 2000 through 2009 for a farm in Richland Center, WI
The four Republican Senators applied for, and received taxpayer funded subsidies in the categories below:
- Direct payments are paid at a set rate every year regardless of conditions.
- Counter-cyclical payments are triggered when market prices fall below certain thresholds.
- A new revenue assurance program provides for overall profitability for a given crop.
- Marketing loans offer very favorable terms whereby farmers can realize tremendous gains through loan deficiency payments (LDPs) and commodity certificates.
- Disaster payments recoup large losses due to natural phenomena. And the government subsidizes crop insurance, paying 100% of the premium, to further insulate farmers from risk. (Meanwhile the same legislators oppose the government subsidized health insurance for their neediest constituents.)
- Conservation Subsidies – this is a pork barrel payment to ‘retired’ farmers who own land and don’t grow anything at all. Taxpayers handed out about $6,000 each year since 2000 to Sen. Schultz for his idle acres.
It is important to note, not all Wisconsin farmers look to the government for handouts. According to the USDA, 40% of eligible Wisconsin farmers did not collect farm subsidy checks.
From THE HUFFINGTON POST:
At least three of the Wisconsin state Senate Republicans currently demanding that public workers sacrifice benefits, wages and even collective bargaining rights for the sake of the budget have applied for and received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal farm subsidies, a Huffington Post review of state and federal records shows.
Those federal appropriations had no direct impact on the state’s current budget woes, but the cash spent on those subsidies, which went to support a range of functions — from soybean production to small hog operations — could have been used elsewhere, perhaps even in Wisconsin. More than that, critics say, it muddles the notion, pushed by these lawmakers and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), that only they are serious about reining in an overextended, overspent government.
“Members of both parties … preach fiscal austerity all the time, but then when it comes to farm subsides going to farmers in their districts, they think the spigot should remain wide open,” said Don Carr, a spokesman and policy adviser for the Environmental Working Group, which tracks and critiques federal farm subsidies.
As Carr acknowledged, there is more than a little irony in the use of government largess by the same senators now demanding that public workers tighten their belts.