The Top Two Percent of America's Farm Subsidy Recipients, 1985-1994
The Cash Croppers: Farm Subsidies 1985-1994: Chapter 6. Wheat
Recipient Category: All Recipients
From 1985 through 1994, more than one million recipients were paid a total of $18.2 billion in USDA wheat deficiency payments. Of this total, the top 2 percent of wheat deficiency subsidy recipients--numbering 21,015 individuals, corporations, general partnerships and other business entities--received 27.7 percent of all wheat deficiency payments. All told, more than $5 billion in wheat deficiency subsidies were funneled to the top 2 percent of recipients. These top recipients averaged $240,019 in wheat deficiency payments over the 10 years examined. In contrast, the average wheat deficiency recipient was paid just $17,287 over the past decade, or 13.8 times less than the average amount paid to the top 2 percent.
The top 2 percent of wheat deficiency recipients participated in the program for 9.2 years out of the last 10, nearly twice as long as the average for all wheat deficiency subsidy recipients, who participated for an average of 4.9 out of 10 years. On the basis of subsidies per year of participation, wheat deficiency payments to the top 2 percent of recipients far exceeded the payments to the average recipient: the top 2 percent were paid $26,002 per year of participation, 7.3 times as much as the $3,516 paid to the average wheat deficiency recipient per year of participation.
Recipient Category: Individuals
According to USDA data files, a total of 838,935 individuals received at least one wheat deficiency payment over the past 10 years; these individuals received a total of $14 billion in wheat deficiency subsidies from 1985 to 1994. The 16,779 individuals among the top 2 percent of wheat deficiency recipients captured 25.6 percent of all wheat deficiency payments, or $3.6 billion, over the same 10-year period. These top individuals received an average of $214,140 in wheat deficiency subsidies over the decade, an amount 12.8 times as high as the average payment ($16,688) to all wheat deficiency recipients over the same period. These top individuals also participated in the wheat deficiency programs far more frequently than the average recipient--9.5 years out of 10 for the top 2 percent of individuals, as compared with 5.2 years out of 10 for all individuals. Wheat deficiency payments to the top 2 percent of individuals averaged $22,464 per year of participation in the wheat deficiency program, compared to $3,171 per year of participation for the average individual.
Recipient Category: Corporations with Stockholders
Nationwide, 36,223 corporations with stockholders received a total of $1.7 billion in wheat deficiency payments from 1985 through 1994. The top 2 percent of these corporations was paid a total of $277 million, or 16.1 percent of all wheat deficiency subsidies to corporations. Each of the 724 corporations among the top 2 percent was paid, on average, $382,096 in wheat deficiency payments over the 10 years studied. In comparison, the average wheat deficiency recipient was paid $47,237 over 10 years, or about one-eighth the amount received by the average recipient in the top 2 percent. Nearly all the top corporations participated for all 10 years from 1985 through 1994, while the average corporation received wheat deficiency payments for just 5 of those 10 years.
Recipient Category: General Partnerships
A total of 32,683 general partnerships netted $1.3 billion in wheat deficiency payments from 1985 through 1994; the 654 general partnerships among the top 2 percent captured 26.3 percent of this total, or $346 million. The average general partnership among this top 2 percent was paid $528,641 in wheat deficiency payments over the period studied, and participated in the wheat deficiency program for an average of 8 out of 10 years. In contrast, the average general partnership was paid $40,166 over 10 years, thirteen times less than the amount that went to the top 2 percent, and participated just 4.6 years of the 10 years studied. The 654 general partnerships among the top 2 percent were paid an average of $65,578 in wheat deficiency subsidies each year of participation in the program.
Recipient Category: Joint Ventures
Over the past decade, nearly $151 million was paid to 5,377 joint ventures that participated in the wheat deficiency program. Of this total, $34.5 million, or 22.8 percent of all wheat deficiency subsidies to joint ventures, went to recipients among the top 2 percent. This top 2 percent, constituting just 108 ventures, was paid an average of $319,532 over the ten years examined, an amount that was 11.3 times greater than the $28,076 in wheat deficiency payments received by the average joint venture over the same period. The top two percent of joint ventures participated in wheat deficiency programs more frequently than the average--6.4 years of 10 for the top recipients, as compared with 3.7 years of 10 for the average recipient--and received nearly $50,000 in wheat deficiency payments per year of participation, 6.6 times the amount paid per year of participation to the average joint venture.
Information About the Top 50 Recipients: Wheat Payments
According to USDA subsidy files, the top recipient of wheat payments in the nation was a general partnership with a mailing address in Walhalla, North Dakota. It was paid $2.3 million in subsidies over the past decade, receiving payments in each of the last 10 years. This general partnership received subsidies from several different counties in North Dakota. Three other recipients were paid more than $2 million, and 45 of the top 50 recipients were paid a million dollars or more. The fifth largest recipient was paid $1.9 million in wheat payments for farms located in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas.
The top individual recipient for wheat payments was paid more than $1.5 million, had a mailing address in Horace, North Dakota, and received payments from a number of counties in North Dakota. The third largest individual recipient of wheat payments had a mailing address in Adams, Oregon, and received $1.1 million from farms located in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.