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Tag Archive: USDA

Farm Subsidies Still Missing from USDAs Data-Rich Website

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Farm subsidies have a way of inciting people. Here, in the words of the Environmental Working Group, is why:

Just ten percent of America's largest and richest farms collect almost three-fourths of federal farm subsidies cash payments that too often promote harmful environmental practices.

For the past five years, EWG has undertaken the arduous task of acquiring subsidy-payment data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Freedom of Information Act, cleaning up millions of records and assembling them into a database that can be searched by name, county, city, farm program, crop and congressional district. The database ...

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FDA Lags USDA in Accessible Food Safety Data

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Salmonella in peanut butter. E. coli in cookie dough. Tainted Serrano peppers. Fetid Chinese seafood. All these recent problems fell within the domain of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which shares food inspection responsibilities with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA inspects meat, poultry and some egg products while the FDA monitors everything else. Food-safety advocates say the USDA is more forthcoming about its inspection activities and are prodding the FDA to do better.

Almost two years ago, Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch filed a lawsuit against the FDA after it refused to release ...

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USDA misses the point

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Matt Drudge has linked a dozen or so examples of what look to be wasteful spending in the stimulus--$2,531,600 for 'HAM, WATER ADDED, COOKED, FROZEN, SLICED, 2-LB', $1,191,200 for '2 POUND FROZEN HAM SLICED' (I linked that one immediately below), $351,807 for 'REPLACE AND UPGRADE THE DUMBWAITER, $1,562,568 for 'MOZZARELLA CHEESE'... and so on. In response, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture posted the following clarifying information:

The references to "2 pound frozen ham sliced" are to the sizes of the packaging. Press reports suggesting that the Recovery Act spent $1.191 ...

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Congress Disinterested in Whether USDA Program Works, Washington Post Reports

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Department of Agriculture efforts intended to create jobs in rural areas, including the Rural Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, haven't quite worked as planned:

Funds have gone to firms that have hired foreign workers instead of Americans. Millions more have gone to failing and bankrupt businesses. Most of the jobs are not new. Many are low-tech and low-wage. In addition to the loan program, the USDA has handed out almost half a billion dollars in rural development grants to businesses and nonprofits since 2001. Loan guarantees or grants have gone to a car wash in Milford, Del.; a country club in Great Falls, Mont.; a movie theater in Smithfield, N.C.; a water park in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; an alligator hunter in Dade City, Fla.; snowmobile clubs in Maine; and dozens of gas stations and convenience stores in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Arkansas.
The article, written by Gilbert M. Gaul in today's Washington Post, provides the kind of in depth examination of government spending that should be routine but sadly, rarely happens. Perhaps his most disturbing finding about the Rural Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program is this: "More than three decades after the loan program was created, USDA officials still don't know whether it works." Office of Management and Budget assessed the program in 2003, at which time USDA disclosed that, "No independent performance evaluations have been conducted to assess the program's impact on improving economic opportunities in rural communities." And, Gaul reports, members of Congress have other interests: making sure the money spigot stays open.

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