U.S. Senator Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has done us all a favor by publishing his new Waste Book 2013 on nutty government spending. Thirty billion dollars this year alone. Because this is the holiday season, we need to laugh and be joyous, and his new book evokes both laughs and disgust.
The news media did point out the waste of $300 million spent on a super blimp and not used. The media also made fun of several other expenditures from the Waste Book. USDA and agriculture were spared by the media but not by Sen. Coburn. Your USDA complains mightily about facing budget pressures. Take a look at some incredible USDA expenditures of your tax money last year.
Item 5 from the Waste Book describes a USDA home loan program to help low and moderate income people. Thousands of borrowers, many not farmers borrow under this loan program. In 2013, more than 100 families received individual loan guarantees for $500,000 or more from USDA to purchase residences in Hawaii. USDA protects the banks by repaying 90 percent of the loans. No down payment or maximum purchase price is required. A farmer, presumably, needs only to buy a home in a rural area. In this case, the rural areas were Maui and Kauai.
In 2011 there were 18,808 home-loan foreclosures at USDA costing taxpayers $295 million. Last year this program lost $496 million. (Smart folks at USDA to continue this program.)
Item 16 describes USDA spending approximately $171,000,000 with U.S. sugar producers and the producers pay the loan back with sugar. In 2013, the government lost $171,500,000 because sugar companies could not or would not pay back USDA the money borrowed. Apparently USDA sold this sugar to an ethanol producer for just a few million dollars and in one case booked a $53,300,000 loss. Sugar producers are simply defaulting on their loans. Smart folks at USDA!
Item 52 is really smelly. The Rich Earth Institute, a non-profit in Vermont, received a $15,000 grant from USDA to collect human urine in the amount of 3,000 gallons. The human urine is to be used as fertilizer. It is sanitized and will be applied to fields to produce crops. The study is to promote human manure as a resource and “is the first…approved and publicly documented use of urine as a fertilizer in the United States.” (Apparently the folks at USDA have never gone to China). I certainly would not want to suggest that because then we would see millions spent on travel and study on the use of human waste. USDA advises that a 2007 study in Finland found that cabbage fertilized with urine grew faster and larger; however, the sauerkraut from cabbage grown with urine tasted different. Surprise! Surprise!