Doug LaMalfa’s Onion Problem

Satirical news site the Onion ran this amusing agriculture-related piece last week:

Corporation Surprised To See Its Tax Money Circle Back Around To It So Soon

MINNETONKA, MN—Saying he’d been expecting the multinational corporation to have to wait a little while longer, David MacLennan, the CEO of U.S.-based agribusiness Cargill, told reporters Friday he was surprised how quickly the money it had just paid out in corporate taxes had circled back around to the company. “Boy, that was fast; by the time we entered our tax expenses onto our balance sheet, we’d already got it all back in government grants and subsidies,” said MacLennan

Funny, right? Except that with much of our federal farm and food policy, the truth often is satire.

Take for instance Congressman Doug La Malfa (R-CA). Along with Stephen Fincher (R-TN) while on the House Agriculture Committee he advocated for cutting food stamps for the hungry. And also like Fincher, LaMalfa hypocritically benefited from millions of taxpayer dollars in the form of farm subsidies while decrying others’ federal benefits.

The issue of his farm subsidies was a big campaign headache for LaMalfa’s election to Congress. His primary challengers rightly called into question LaMalfa’s conservative bona fides due to his dependence on Uncle Sam’s largesse. As reported by the Redding Record Searchlight:

Stiglich said it’s hypocritical for a fellow Republican to receive federal farm aid, especially because LaMalfa has billed himself as a leader in the fight against expensive government entitlement programs.

“When it meets his personal interest, it’s not a big entitlement,” Stiglich said.

Gregory Cheadle, a Happy Valley Republican, agreed.

“You can’t condemn welfare recipients on one end then get welfare on the other end,” Cheadle said. ” I mean 5 million bucks? Come on.”

How did LaMalfa defend himself from charges of socialist tendencies?

He said subsidies help “breadbasket” crop growers like his family offset the costs of burdensome government regulations, taxes, trade policies and escalating fuel costs that threaten to put them out of business.

Subsidies for taxes. And the circle of life continues.

About the author

For over fifteen years I’ve investigated and written about America’s worst polluters from the gas fields of North Dakota to the “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve been a Senior Advisor for the Environmental Working Group and a Senior Manager at the Environmental Defense Fund. As a freelance journalist, I’ve written for Politico, the Washington DC City Paper, the Huffington Post, Grist, Civil Eats and the Food and Environment Reporting Network.

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