Working (the government) for a living

Montana State Roundup

Published November 1, 2001  | November 2001 issue

In the midst of a drought that has crippled much of the state's crops, some Montana farmers can take solace that the federal safety net appears intact for crop farmers.

Last year, state farmers received a total of $619 million from federal government subsidies—part of the $27 billion doled out to farmers nationwide—most of which goes to commodity crop farmers. In Montana, $6 of every $10 went to wheat farmers, as wheat is the state's top crop. The state of Montana even managed to pull in more than $8 million, thanks mostly to the fact that it leases about a half-million acres, and is thereby eligible for income support.

Montana already ranks near the bottom in average per capita income at a little over $20,000; without last year's farm subsidies, average wages reportedly would have fallen another 3 percent.

Ronald A. Wirtz