By Derrick Blakley
CHICAGO (CBS) — Hundreds of Chicagoans are cashing in on federal farm subsidy programs originally created to rescue farmers from the Great Depression.
CBS 2’s Political Reporter Derrick Blakley reports more than 1,200 Chicago residents are receiving federal farm subsidies, totaling millions of dollars.
"Last year, two million dollars flowed to city dwellers in Chicago. Over the last three years, $8 million in federal farm subsidies flowed to city residents," said Andy Andrzejewski, head of the watchdog group, OpenTheBooks.com. His researchers have been combing federal records to find which Chicagoans are feeding on farm subsidies.
Sean Derrig owns the Rocky Run Recreational Club in downstate Tiskilwa, Illinois. Last year, he received $36,000 in federal subsidies, but Derrig’s main business is real estate development, with an Irving Park road address.
"You’ve got thousands in federal farm subsidies being sent to a dentistry office in Chicago," said Andrzejewski.
Dr. Joseph McCartin, who received $49,000 in federal subsidies for an Iowa farm. The crop subsidy program was intended to save family farms during the depression. Andrejewski suggests it is now so big, it is being misused.
"The program now has become welfare to the wealthy, the wealthy farmers, investors, and large corporations that are doing farming," Andrzejewski explained.
Derrig says he farms corn and beans at his recreational club, but also raises wildflowers to help bees multiply, a program the feds subsidize. Dr. McCartin says his subsidies are a reward for being a good steward of the land.
Critics say they would like to see the subsidies restricted to tenant farmers or they would like to see the wealthy barred from the subsidies altogether.