Getting Farmers off the Dole

The budget squeeze forces a hard look at agriculture subsidies

Mention farm aid, and most Americans think of the benefit concerts Willie Nelson throws for debt-plagued family farmers. In reality, the average full- time farmer boasts a net worth of $1,016,000 and annual income of $168,000 -- thanks in large part to federal handouts.

These averages are somewhat distorted by the high incomes and wealth of a few thousand huge growers. But farm-subsidy payments, which totaled about $20 billion last year, are equally skewed. Most small farmers receive few if any federal payments, 40% of which flow to the wealthiest 60,000 at a cost to the average family of about $500...

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