26 April 2006

Ohio Gives $125 Million to Farmers

Ohio is one of many states that gives low-interest loans to agricultural businesses. According to the Ohio Treasurer's office:

In order to apply and be considered for a reduced interest rate Ag-Link loan, a farmer must have a farm that is headquartered in Ohio, maintain 51 percent of the land and/or operating facilities in Ohio and be organized for profit. The maximum allowable loan is $100,000 per applicant.

The Dayton Business Journal reports that $125 million was given out last year in Ag-Link loans. But how is a "farm" defined? The requirements quoted above (from a Ohio Treasurer's office press release) don't make any distinction between a family farm and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cargill. I'd prefer to see my tax dollars helping the former rather than the latter.

I tried to get more specific information from the Ohio Treasurer's website, but the link for "Agricultural Linked Deposit Program" returns a 404 error.

The rules above state the maximun loan is $100,000, but the DBJ article cites figures for Greene County that 21 farmers got $2.7 million, which averages to over $128,000.

The Treasurer's website is either not maintained or under renovation because many links did not work. Maybe when (if?) it works we can find out if our tax dollars are being used for family farms and small businesses or if the Ag-Link program is just another thinly-veiled corporate welfare scheme.

Please feel free to enlighten if you have any information.

1 comment:

Wes said...

The family farm is important to me, not the least because I grew up on one.

If the Democrats would articulate a real rural development policy with preservation and encouragement of the family farm at its centerpiece, you might see some action. I know Wes Clark had some ideas on rural economic policy during his presidential bid.

Now having said that, we'd have an uphill battle - there are many farm-related magazines and newspapers (Farm Journal, Agri-News, Prairie Farmer, etc.), but most of them are bought and paid for by Big Agriculture, so we'd not get much support on the editorial pages.

*sigh* Where's the Grange when you need them?