Sunday, July 22, 2007

How to Work the Farm Subsidy System

The Springfield Illinois State Journal Register has an extensive article about the Dowson family of central Illinois who are some of the largest farmers in Illinois and how they have set up many business entities to collect farm subsidies. Many see this as a clear abuse of the system and why the system needs dramatic change:

Melissa Dowson Vorreyer doesn't look like a farmer.
A real-estate broker whose picture appears on billboards and
newspaper ads throughout Springfield, Vorreyer is one of Re/Max's top earners in
Illinois, selling millions of dollars worth of real estate each year.

Two years ago, she and her husband, who works full time for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, paid $357,000 for their home adjacent to
Piper Glen Golf Club near Chatham. Vorreyer holds a bachelor's degree in
marketing from the University of Illinois. When she isn't selling property, she
enjoys coaching her daughter's softball and soccer teams, according to an online
biography posted on her brokerage's Web site.

Vorreyer's sister, Amy Dowson Thoma, a real-estate broker who works in Vorreyer's office, also doesn't look like a farmer. According to her online biography, she worked for computer company Levi, Ray & Shoup before going into real estate. She holds a bachelor's degree in business from Eastern Illinois University and coaches her children's soccer team in her spare time.

Nowhere in their Internet biographies do Vorreyer or Thoma say they are farmers. But they both have collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal farm subsidies, money that isn't supposed to go to anyone who isn't farming.
Since 2000, taxpayers have given Vorreyer more than $1.4 million in subsidies, according to federal databases. Thoma has collected more than $655,000 since 2000.

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