According to a new report from the Environmental Working Group, farm subsidies in the U.S. rose 68 percent last year to hit $21.2 billion. The group says these payments distort trade, harm economic development in poorer nations and benefit large agribusinesses as opposed to small farms.

In addition to its report, the group has updated its searchable database of farm subsidy payments. A few highlights include:

  • The database now tracks 11 years of payments (1995-2005) to 3.2 million recipients, totaling $164.7 billion.
  • 2005 was by far the most expensive year for farm subsidy payments since the controversial 2002 Farm Bill was enacted.
  • Payments tracked through EWG's Farm Subsidy Database exceeded $21 billion last year, of which $16 billion (76 percent) was provided in commodity subsidies, with $1.9 billion for conservation and $3 billion for disaster aid.
  • A majority of farmers -- 66 percent, according to the Census of Agriculture -- do not collect government payments, largely because they do not grow one of the five crops that account for over 90 percent of the payments in any given year (rice, wheat, corn, cotton and soybeans).

To access a Bloomberg news article on the report, go to: http://www.ewg.org/news/story.php?id=5652

To access the farm subsidy database, go to: http://www.ewg.org:16080/farm/

Environmental Working Group, Bloomberg News