This little radio story, from NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, tells the story of a sprawling ranch in Texas. It was the single largest recipient of federal farm subsidies between 1999 and 2005 — receiving some $8.3 million, not for cattle, but for cotton. Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group says this:
It’s the exact opposite of what most taxpayers have in mind when they think of how their farm subsidy money is supporting agriculture.
The farm is so big and so profitable, apparently, that it only applies for subsidies because "other cotton growers do," and because "the federal subsidy program provides the framework for the whole cotton growing industry."
Ironically, while King Ranch is virtually forced to accept Washington’s cotton money, it can’t get any federal support for the conservation acreage that is now its most rapidly growing sector. It’s too big, says the Farm bill, to qualify for that type of funding.