Between 2008 and 2011, the U.S. government awarded roughly $6.12 million in federal farm subsidies to several groups in the Chicago area, including a charity owned by Louis Farrakhan’s The Nation of Islam, according to a report released by government watchdog group Open the Books.
The report, titled "Farm Subsidies and the Big Dogs," is based on data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture & information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The report examines total farm subsidies that have been paid into selected cities and urban areas.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, federal farm subsidies are being poured into several non-farming metropolitan areas, including New York City and Chicago, according to the report.
Several entities in Chicago, for example, “receive the federal subsidies at their downtown loop office buildings or residential mansions,” the report reads. “Nearly every neighborhood in the city receives federal farm subsidy payments -- including the Gold Coast, Downtown -- Loop, Lincoln Park, and even the President’s neighbors in Hyde Park.”
A total of 930 entities in the Chicago area received farm subsidies between 2008 and 2011.
And as for the Louis Farrakhan group: Three Years Economic Savings, Inc., which is listed at his home address, received approximately $103,529 between 2008 and 2011, making it the 12th highest farm subsidy recipient in the Chicago area.
The entity’s status is listed on the Illinois Secretary of State website as being “not good standing,” the Open the Books reported. But the Three Years Economic Savings' website, muhammadfarms.com, is still accepting donations.
The group also received a $26,357 “commodity loan” during the Bush administration “to improve & stabilize farm income, assist with a better balance between supply and demand of the commodities,” the report notes.
This loan was signed on Nov., 17, 2008.
The group's estimates of farm subsidy payments are based on several data points including crop subsidies, conservation & wetland reserve subsidies, dairy & livestock subsidies, & environmental quality incentive programs.
Of all Illinois municipalities receiving federal farm subsidies, Chicago is ranked number seven, according to the report. And of all states receiving federal farm subsidies, Illinois is ranked number three.
But if you think the situation in Chicago is suspicious, keep in mind what’s happening there is only a snapshot of what’s going on nationwide with federal farm subsidies.
“Billions in U.S. Farm Subsidies flowed to only 10,806 Recipients -- each receiving at least $250,000” between 2008 and 2011, the report notes. “Each received an (average) of $417,316.”
This would seem to imply that a lot more than farming is being subsidized by the federal government.
“(F)arm subsidies today have nothing to do with ‘preserving the family farm,’” the report reads, adding that small family farms between 2008 and 2011 received only a small fraction of federal subsidies.
“Wealthy investors have piggy-backed on a growing government program and made the largess of farm subsidies part of their investment portfolio. Many of these wealthy investors don’t live in ‘rural areas,’ but instead utilize ‘farm managers’ and taxpayer dollars to maximize return on their ‘farm’ investments,” the report notes.
But, again, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Media outlets have reported for years that a very small (but elite) group of recipients take the lion’s share of the billions paid out each year by Uncle Sam. Indeed, roughly 10 percent of total recipients account for nearly 74 percent doled out annually.
The Open the Books report adds this final thought: “Traditionally, farm subsidies have been Republican pork while Democrats had the food stamp subsidies to pass out to their base. Both programs were bound together and passed with substantial support. However, this year the House Republicans separated the bills. This year, in theory, reform is possible.”
You can see the full report here:
Click here to read more about federal farm subsidies. This post has been updated.
(H/T: Jim Hoft)
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