Monday, November 10, 2008

Welcome to the Glass House: Program Payments and Donations

The Tulsa World has a two-part series on farm program payments and their recipients. By matching the payments against the public records of those who make political donations they identified many Oklahomans who are professionals and receive the payments.

In the second part they identified farmers who received payments but who were also fined for violations (apparently mostly CAFO's who violated environmental rules). An FSA official was quoted, correctly, as saying there was no cross-compliance provision--eligibility for FSA program payments is independent of violations/eligibility for other programs.

This is just a start. President-elect Obama included a pledge of transparency in his platform and today, with databases and the Internet, you can see it working in some areas. I'd start a pool on how long it takes EWG and/or other publications to emulate the Tulsa paper, and then on how long it is before members of Congress start pushing to bar payments to environmental violations.

And for people who aren't involved in agriculture or farm programs, your turn is next. Farm program payments are a test case for transparency simply because EWG was able to obtain the data and put it online back in the 1990's, well ahead of similar efforts in other areas.

1 comment:

Megan said...

We do some cross compliance in my state agency (if you want a grant from us you must show us your xxx Plan) and I will say that it gets people's attention very rapidly.