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Farming and Ranching

As I drove throughout the area in late December, I saw that the livestock was fat and sleek. Tanks were all full and there was moisture in the ground. If this holds, we should see a good growing season for 2002.

The disproportionate subsidies handed out to area farmers should be of great concern.

The following is excerpted from "Conservation Needs - Texas" Page Link:

"Over the last four years (1996-2000), Texas taxpayers have contributed heavily to "emergency" crop subsidy payment programs flowing to the largest growers of just eight crops: wheat, corn, sorghum, rice, barley, oats, soybeans and cotton. The programs mostly benefit other states. Moreover, they have been widely exposed in dozens of investigative news stories as wasteful because they bypass two-thirds of all U.S. farmers and steer payments largely into the hands of the wealthiest corporate farms - who then use the money to buy up smaller, neighboring family operators.

Although policymakers support these wasteful programs as the best way to "save family farms" and "sustain the rural economy," EWG analysis of USDA data shows that they may have the opposite effect. For instance, between 1996 and 2000, the top 10 percent of recipients (17,254 recipients) in Texas received over 70 percent of federal farm subsidies flowing into the state, with an average payment of over $240,000 per recipient. In contrast, the bottom 90 percent of recipients (157,005 recipients) in Texas only received 33 percent of farm subsidies, with an average payment of little over $12,455.

At the same time, the state's considerable - and growing - land conservation needs have gone chronically under-funded. There is currently over $178 million in unfunded applications from Texas farmers who want to implement conservation practices on their land.

There has to be a better way!"