In an attempt to determine how much money was spent on the Dairy Indemnity Program in fiscal years 2007 and 2008, I phoned the number advertised on the cfda.gov Web site.
From there, I was transferred to a man in the Farm Service Agency’s public affairs office who told me it would take a minimum of 24 hours to acquire the figures. Minutes later, when I asked the same individual about the total spent on the Livestock Assistance Program, I was told no such subsidy exists. Instead, there is a Livestock ‘Disaster’ Program now in effect.
Regarding the 46 other subsidies I was researching, I was given the name and e-mail address of a “FOIA” officer and asked to contact her regarding obligation numbers beyond the Livestock ‘Disaster’ Program. So, I did. And she responded by suggesting I submit a ‘FOIA request’ to an office in Kansas. She asked that I specify ‘precisely’ what data I am looking for, and that I list each individual subsidy and the fiscal years I wanted payment totals for.
She also said there may be a cost involved in requesting the information.
…and that it could take 20 days to process.
There seems to be a large disconnect between the subsidies actually in effect and the ones posted on the cfda.gov Web site.
What in the world is the Department of Agriculture doing with the approximately $15 billion it gives out in subsidies per year, and why is it so difficult to acquire the information?