Farm Subsidies for the Deceased

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A new report from the Government Accountability Office says that although the USDA has gotten better at not paying out farm subsidies to dead farmers, it’s still forking out millions of dollars to the dearly taxpayer-dependent departed: 

…GAO did a data review for fiscal year 2008 to April 2012, and estimates that [the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service] $10.6 million payments on behalf of 1,103 deceased individuals 1 year or more after their death. Some of these payments may have been proper, but NRCS cannot be certain because it neither identifies which of its payments were made to deceased individuals, nor reviews each of these payments. 

…GAO matched every policyholder’s Social Security number in [the USDA’s Risk Management Agency’s] crop insurance subsidy and administrative allowance data for crop insurance years 2008 to 2012 with SSA’s master list of deceased individuals and found that $22 million in subsidies and allowances may have been provided on behalf of an estimated 3,434 program policyholders 2 or more years after death. Many of these subsidies and allowances may have been proper, but without reviewing each subsidy and allowance made on behalf of deceased individuals, RMA cannot be certain that these subsidies and allowances are proper. 

Galling as it is, the volume of handouts going to the deceased is trivial compared to the amount (around $20 billion annually) going to the living. So let’s keep in mind that the real outrage continues to be the very existence of these reverse Robin Hood agriculture subsidy programs. Dead or alive, theft is theft.