In today's farm subsidy report, we learn that small-government Congresswoman Kristi Noem's family continues to rake in federal cash for her vaunted family farm. According to the Environmental Working Group, the Noem-Arnold Racota Valley Ranch took in $68,549 in farm subsidies in 2011. That brings the family farm's benefits from Uncle Sam since 1995 to just a tick under $3.2 million.
$3.2 million over 16 years—that would have paid six or seven teachers like me full South Dakota salaries for that entire time.
Now Kristi got off the Racota ownership list in 2009; since then, the owners have been her mom Corinne and her brothers Robb and Rock. Now that Kristi is working for us full-time and enjoying government health insurance, she doesn't need the farm income. But her family is making a good living at the government teat...
...as are lots of South Dakota farmers. EWG data shows that in 2011, South Dakota farmers received $146 million in commodity subsidies. Twelve states, including our arable neighbors North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, and subsidy king Iowa, received more crop subsidies in 2011. Divide our farm welfare by our 31,800 farms, and we get an average crop subsidy of just under $4,600 per farm. That's $200 more than the South Dakota Legislature was willing to spend per student for K-12 education.
Perhaps worth noting: Noem's challenger, Matt Varilek, does not appear to have received any farm subsidies while working his way through college. I don't have a family tree handy, but try this: search "Varilek" in South Dakota in the EWG database. You find 17 Varileks around the state (Tyndall, Geddes, Colome...). Over the last 16 years, those 17 Varileks have drawn $1.7 million in farm subsidies, a little more than half of what the Noems and Arnolds have collected on one farm.