A new report shows millions of dollars in farm subsidies going to West Texas. That is tax money being paid to farmers when market prices drop.
A new reporting system shows where those dollars are going, and who they're going to. Now, those numbers are available to you on-line through The Environmental Working Group's website.
They're a public interest group that's pushed for more equal distribution of farm subsidies. That's because their report shows out of 435 Congressional Districts, 19 take in nearly half of all farm subsides. Our district, District 19, is very near the top of that list.
"When you look at the USDA figures, the three districts that encompass the South Plains, the Panhandle, and the Big Country, are the top three cotton producing districts in the United States," U.S. Congressman Randy Neugebauer said.
Combine that with wheat production, and the developing peanut industry in West Texas, and Congressman Neugebauer says it makes sense the area would receive a big piece of the subsidy pie.
Here's just how big, according to The Environmental Working Group. From 2003 to 2005, District 19, which includes Lubbock, received more that $1.2 billion in farm subsidies. That makes District 19 the fourth highest earning district for that time period.
District 13, which includes Crosbyton and Dickens, ranked 13th, taking in more than $670 million from 2003 to 2005. While District 11, which includes Lamesa and Snyder, ranked 29th, taking in more than $320 million from 2003 to 2005.
The government pays farmers subsidies when commodity prices drop below a designated level. Neugebauer describes them as safety nets.
"To protect one of our precious gems in America, that's American agriculture, we have had these safety nets in place to keep our farmers and ranchers in business in periods of very low prices," Neugebauer said.
NewsChannel 11 wanted to know if these numbers will effect subsidy distribution in the 2007 farm bill.
"After speaking with producers in the 19th District, many of them think the current farm bill is working pretty well. I'm trying to make sure that the next farm bill accomplishes some of the same things it did for West Texas producers that the 2002 farm bill did," Neugebauer said.
Rankings for each district do change for each individual year.
The current farm bill expires on September 30th. Lawmakers are busy working on the new bill. Right now it's in sub-committee.
To check out The Environmental Working Group's Farm Subsidy Database, click here. Due to a large volume of users, this page may take several minutes to load.
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