Gay Old Time? SAN FRANCISCO MADNESS: YOU PAY "FARMERS" IN SIN CITY $446,302.
In 2012, the federal government paid some \$5 billion in direct payments to farmers of wheat, corn, barley, oats, cotton, rice, soybeans, peanuts and other crops -- except the recipients cannot all be farmers.
According to the Environmental Working Group, 116 of those tillers of the earth reside in San Francisco. For their farming activities, they pocketed \$446,302.
How is it, you might ask, that a government saddled with \$17 trillion in debt can afford to send checks to more than 18,000 urban farmers? The group's senior vice president for government affairs, Scott Faber, calls the direct payments program "one of the most ridiculous" government programs in recent history, as it pays "farm subsidies to farmers regardless of whether they have suffered a loss or whether they even planted a crop."
Of course, the program was born as a reform. The 1996 Freedom to Farm Act was supposed to wean farmers off New Deal largesse by phasing out agriculture subsidies through direct payments. But old subsidies neither die nor fade away. In 2002 and 2008, Congress extended the program.
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