2NEWS Investigation: Farm subsidies going to dead people

Farm subsidies help farmers get through tough seasons and encourages them to grow certain crops.

So why are millions of dollars in subsidies going to people who are dead?

Don Drury loves farming.

"I get to grow really good food for good people," said Drury of Bootstrap Farm.

He brings his goods from Yale, Oklahoma to the Brookside Farmers Market. Drury says farming can have its ups and downs, depending on mother nature. If the crop isn't as great, subsidies can help farmers out.

"The farm subsidies are mainly for the mono-crops, you know, corn and wheat and things like that," said Lisa Brandborg, the market manager for the Brookside and Cherry Street Farmers Markets.

She says most of the food you see at the farmers markets aren't eligible for subsidies. Fruits and veggies aren't included in the subsidy program, just commodity crops like wheat, corn, soy beans and sorghum.

"So there's a financial disincentive for me to grow healthy food," said Drury.

But that's just one of Drury's and Brandborg's frustrations. The 2NEWS Investigators obtained the 25-page report done by the Government Accountability Office on the USDA program. The GAO report found "$22 million in subsidies and allowances may have been provided.. to policyholders two or more years after their death."

READ THE GAO REPORT (http://1.usa.gov/170kZJU)

Which means the government is issuing checks paid by your tax dollars to farmers who have been dead for over two years.

"It's horrible. There needs to be much better accounting. You don't want money going to farmers who are no longer with us," said Brandborg.

Brandborg says it's especially frustrating when the deceased are getting something many living farmers are not eligible for, people like Drury.

"Why is broccoli not part of the commodity crop program? Why are they not subsidizing arugala production? Why are they not subsidizing watermelon production?" said Drury.

We reached out to the USDA for a statement on the study, but the agency never responded to our request.

According to the GAO study, these checks are automatically sent. However, when a farmer dies, that information does not automatically get entered into the system.

The GAO recommends the agency put more oversight and safe guards in place, like matching social security numbers with the death master file.

If there's something you'd like the 2NEWS Investigators to look into, send us an e-mail at investigators@kjrh.com.

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