Who's bringing home the bacon?


Imagine discovering your salary and assets posted on the Internet.

Farmers throughout the nation are finding their names listed on the Web, along with the amount of federal subsidies they've received since the passage of the 1996 Farm Bill. The Environmental Working Group retrieved and compiled the data under the Freedom of Information Act.

"I think it's an intrusion of privacy," says Nadyne Kinser, a farmer in Paonia, Colo. Kinser notes that the current subsidy program often excludes small farmers and rewards big players. Indeed, Fortune 500 companies such as DuPont received subsidies nearing $200,000, while the average recipient took less than $30,000.

While some farmers are embarrassed to see their subsidies listed, Environmental Working Group press secretary Sarah Feinberg says it's important "to make public what (Environmental Working Group) has known all along." Small farmers now understand why they're being bought out by their bigger neighbors, she says.

Feinberg believes the Web site had an enormous impact on the reformed Farm Bill passed by the Senate. If adopted, the bill would subsidize more conservation programs than ever before and more evenly distribute subsidies. Over 350,000 people have visited the site, including Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman.

To log on, go to www.ewg.org.

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