Farmers Are Not Poor
Farming may be the most federally subsidized profession in America. The persistence of farm subsidy programs results from the popular misconception that they stabilize the incomes of poor family farmers who are at the mercy of unpredictable weather and crop prices. Yet a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report concluded that, "On average, farm households have higher incomes, greater wealth, and lower consumption expenditures than all U.S. households." This statement can be broken down into three parts:
In 1999, the average farm household earned $64,437--17 percent more than the $54,842 average for non-farmers. Incomes were even higher among the 136,000 households with annual farm sales over $250,000--and who also receive the largest subsidies. Their 1999 average income of $135,397 was two-and-a-half times the national average. Farmer incomes are not only high, but also quite stable from year to year, despite agricultural market fluctuations.
The average farm household had a net worth of $563,563 in 1999--well above the $88,000 national average.
Lower consumption expenditures.
Farm households have fewer costs than other households because (1) the cost of living is lower in rural America; (2) farm households need to purchase less food from outside sources; and (3) mortgage and utility bills are often classified as business expenses. Consequently, the average farm household spent only $25,073 on goods and services in 1999, which is $11,000 less than the average non-farm family.
So once again the caring compassionate politicians and the government they run are subsidizing the wealthy and influential.