An estimated 90,000 people living in 350 cities and towns across the country got nearly $400 million in taxpayer-funded crop subsidies last year, says a top environmental watchdog group.

The data was revealed by the Environmental Working Group in conjunction with a Senate Agricultural committee review of farm spending, in light of the deficit reduction and debt ceiling fights in Washington, D.C. Fights over cuts to ethanol subsidies in particular have broken out on Capitol Hill.

Farm subsidies were launched after the Great Depression to help struggling small farmers plant corn, soybeans, rice, cotton and wheat. The payments were meant for farmers who actually work the land, not absentee land owners and investors, the group says.

But the group says an estimated $394 million in farm subsidies have been given to “absentee land owners and investors living in every major American city.”

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