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Noem Family Draws $68,549 in Farm Subsidies in 2011

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... 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.

Update 12:50 CDT: Mr. Montgomery follows up on the Noem subsidy story, noting that in the last two years, Kristi Noem has also received $2740 in direct payments.


  1. mike 2012.07.02

    She's a hypocrite.

  2. Michael Black 2012.07.02

    The Noem family is not unique among farmers for receiving payments. Should we check all politicians to see how they, their families and their friends have benefited from government programs. Farming subsidies are such a small part of the picture. We could include Pell grants, student loans, social security, unemployment, and on and on and on.

    Everyone has benefited in some way from a government program at some point in their life.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.02

    Michael, I just pointed out that her family's share of farm subsidies is remarkably high compared to the average that South Dakota farms receive. Noem also is different from other South Dakotans who receive benefits from government in that she makes criticism of government assistance her stock in trade.

  4. mike 2012.07.02

    She gets $175,000 to serve in Congress, $69,000 from the federal government in ag subsidies and then she advocates for crop insurance subsidies while serving in Congress which coincidently her husband sells at their crop insurance agency.

    Varilek needs to run against Noem as a hypocrite rather than a Tea Party activists. Stace Nelson would not be on both sides of every issue.

    One set of rules for Kristi another set for everyone else.

  5. Dougal 2012.07.02

    Welfare queen Kristi Noem.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.02

    Varilek could combine what Mike and Michael are saying. He could tell the narrative of how we all benefit from our government. We are the government, and we make our lives better with the projects we work on together for mutual benefit (roads, bridges, schools, cops, conservation programs, etc.) Kristi Noem wants to benefit from all those programs even while bad-mouting them with Tea Party rhetoric that she doesn't really believe. That's one reason you vote for Matt Varilek: he's honest about government, he understands government, and he wants to make it work for all of us, not himself.

  7. Bill Fleming 2012.07.02

    ...and to top it off, she's probably one of those who like to say "government doesnt create jobs." Hey, government created HER job.

  8. larry kurtz 2012.07.02

    Kristi Noem: Making Iowa Look Friendlier.

  9. Brian 2012.07.02

    No doubt this is troubling. Sadly, there are too many politicians who say one thing and do another.

  10. Jana 2012.07.02

    Of course to be fair, we should probably include the value of her families health insurance plan. What's the percentage of her contribution?

    Maybe Varilek could do a commercial with a look-a-like Noem family playing a board game in the family kitchen and Kristi could tell her young son that he doesn't have to worry about his share of the national debt...the taxpayers covered it for him, plus a little more for good measure.

  11. mike 2012.07.02

    This is why I've 100% gotten off the Noem wagon. She has one set of values and rules for her and another one for the rest of the world.

    She can make lots of money off the federal government but if someone going through a hard time takes a few thousand dollars they are evil.

  12. larry kurtz 2012.07.02

    Farm subsidies for hobby ranchers like Racota Valley have one purpose: to provide habitat for invasive species like the Chinese Ring-necked Pheasant at the expense of indigenous organisms and sells hunting to tourists and pockets the profits: hardly a losing venture.

    As the chemical toilet overflows with effluent, expect these parasites to keep feeding at the public trough.

  13. Charlie Hoffman 2012.07.02

    Larry which country did you say your grandparents came from? Unless you are Native American Indian sir you are a perfect example of a parasitic invasive species. :) (and you have to agree that is funny)

    BTW if your research wing of that finely tuned brain of yours feels so inclined go look up how much revenue our SD cities gain from being the number ONE pheasant hunting state in America. Those dollars don't have to come from taxing the citizens of SD, or you for that matter.

  14. larry kurtz 2012.07.02

    I am a direct descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullens: as invasive as they come.

  15. larry kurtz 2012.07.02

    greed does not make it good, Charlie.

  16. Charlie Hoffman 2012.07.02

    No but to make a point here on some of this you must agree that once we as a society place a value on any plant or animal we try to make sure that it maintains a healthy and vigorous place in our environment.

    When my kids were young Larry they asked me what bloodlines we have in our family. After telling Austin that we are German, Irish, French, and Scottish he replied, "Geez Dad does that mean we are mutts?"

  17. larry kurtz 2012.07.02

    We are all Africans, Mr. Hoffman: trading your success with glyphosate and polyethoxylated tallow amine for clean water is hardly a sustainable choice for my daughters if they choose not to flee your chemical toilet.

    Have you seen any drones circling your livestock operation yet, Charlie?

  18. larry kurtz 2012.07.02

    It's only a level playing field when enough white guys say so.

  19. Mark 2012.07.02

    Jana - Congresswoman Noem's share of her health insurance premium, depending on which plan she chose, would be about 30%.

  20. Tim Higgins 2012.07.02

    And the Herseth family took in $71,306

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.02

    Sure, and the Herseth family never made campaigning against the value of government action in the market a core political strategy. Do you see the difference here, Tim? I'm not criticizing farm subsidies themselves. I'm criticizing the hypocrisy of Noem's winking at the Tea Party while acting like the unpatriotic government-dependent liberal she'd have you believe all Democrats are. You just can't turn this issue around on Democrats. (Also, fighting 2010 won't win in November, either.)

  22. Tim Higgins 2012.07.02

    Yes Corey I am familiar with your arguments and Noem campaign. Just pointing out that Noem is not the oly politician receiving subsidies.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.02

    And I am familiar with your diversionary tactic, trying to keep folks from realizing what an hypocrite Kristi Noem is.

  24. Taunia 2012.07.02

    Oh look. More facts on a liberal blog. Damn it, Cory!

  25. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.02

    Thanks, Taunia. I may work on new blog taglines, like, "In fact, I am annoying!"

  26. Jana 2012.07.02

    I love the line "Facts have a liberal bias."

  27. Donald Pay 2012.07.02

    The Tea Party is all about protecting government subsidies for the corporate elite and assorted white folk. They don't care, as long as the folks they don't like aren't sucking up all the federal money that should go to subsidizing them.

  28. grudznick 2012.07.02

    Mr. Kurtz, you young fellows might all be Africans, but I'm old enough to be a Pangaean.

  29. mike 2012.07.02

    Cory is absolutely right. Noem is not a TEA PARTIER. She only plays one during election cycles.

  30. Mark 2012.07.03

    With all these facts coming out, I'm thinking the Varilek-Noem race just might be competitive. Going to be an interesting four months...

  31. Troy Jones 2012.07.03

    I think you guys need to hammer this issue harder. I know in your little group think world this seems clever but the vast majority of South Dakota understand it is unreasonable to expect a farmer to stay in business outside the playing field by the government in the Farm Bill and like having someone with direct experience in agriculture.

    P.S. Proof your argument is a political loser:. I will bet you never hear this line from Varilek. The only reason I am giving you this advice is not because I am prone to pull your foot from your mouth. But agriculture is too important to EVERYONE in SD to have it so misused for political points.

  32. Mark 2012.07.03

    I might take that bet if I knew what "line" Troy is referring too.
    No Dakota politician, except maybe some arden Ron Paul supporters are going to publicly advocate doing away with farm subsidies, particularly in the global market.
    But I think the Madville Times' point is talking about how Congresswoman Noem's political positions seems to be affected by hypocrisy. Obviously, that's informed and influenced by the prism he's looking through, just as it is for you. I think the voters are smart enough to discern some of the nuances of that policy argument, whether they're directly involved in agriculture or not.

  33. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.03

    Troy, keep your hands off my foot.

    I'll stick with this line as ongoing education for South Dakota. You Republicans tell us we are all about self-reliance and the free market, but you admit that South Dakota's largest industry, agriculture, can't survive without a big government crutch. Wow! The only reason to pipe down about that is that we want to keep our socialist dependence a dirty little secret.

  34. Charlie Hoffman 2012.07.04

    The true question becomes that of how government subsidies affect commodity prices. Did the subsidization of corn for instance push that price up over the $6 threshold? Same for soybeans and wheat. How did we get to $200 per hundredweight cattle prices without government subsidization of beef. Supply and demand work very well to contain the growth of market share in any single commodity except when government is pushing expansion with inflated subsidies, but only for a while until the price drops and base acres move to more profitable use. If for some reason flax would jump to $20 a bushel we would see a sea of blue everywhere for a year or two until the production met consumption needs. If this drought continues nationwide we easily could see corn hit $8 and beans $20 without any government intervention whatsoever pushing the price up. Supply and demand simply doing its job.

  35. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.04

    So why aren't we hearing economic analysis like that from our Congresswoman, Charlie? She just blathers on about food security (because no one will be hungry if the government doesn't subsidize?) and other excuses for her family's selfish interests.

  36. Barry 2012.07.04

    Mr. Kurtz,
    Just clicked on your link to Monsanto and was warned by my browser that the site had a poor reputation. It would seem that word is getting around

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