Green harvest

He helps keep agribusiness in the corporate welfare line.

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Not all the corporate money that poured into the 104th Congress went to the Republican majority. Take the money given by the agricultural industry — Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.) did.

In 1995, Democrats (and some Republicans) said they wanted to cut “corporate welfare” programs, including subsidies to the sugar, peanut, and tobacco industries. As chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Fazio’s job was to build party consensus — and the consensus rejected all three subsidy cuts.

Fazio, the Democrats’ top PAC recipient, with $642,000 so far this election, also defends the government’s heavily criticized Market Promotion Program (MPP), which gives $90 million a year to agricultural companies to fund their overseas ad campaigns.

Testifying on the House floor, Fazio described it as a program for family farms: “They are people who grow 10 acres of almonds or 50 acres of prunes or 30 acres of wine grapes.” Try 130,000 acres of almonds (like those controlled by Blue Diamond, which has received $38.6 million since MPP’s creation in 1986). Or 50,000 acres of prunes (Sunsweet, $23.7 million). Or 22,000 acres of wine grapes (Gallo Winery, $25.6 million). All of these companies are healthy Fazio contributors.

But the big daddy of Democrats’ agricultural subsidies is still Archer Daniels Midland, giving Democrats $632,441 (and Republicans a respectable $367,756) in 1993-94. Even after the Justice Department announced its investigation into ADM for possible price-fixing, both parties — and Fazio — continued to accept money from the company and its CEO, Dwayne Andreas.

Democrats who try to repeal corporate subsidies, such as Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), aren’t surprised. “When it comes to these programs,” says Jim Kessler, Schumer’s legislative director, “I never expect much from the Democratic leadership.”

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate