Falling into line with the Tea Party rhetoric against “out-of-control” government spending, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) is now supporting a move away from direct subsidies to the agriculture industry in favor of an incentives-driven model. But Perry himself has benefited from over $80,000 in farm subsidies over the years and publicly declared his support for farm subsidies when running for Texas Agriculture Commissioner in 1990. After his opponent accused him of wanting to terminate price supports for farmers, Perry was quick to deny the claim:
“[Former Commissioner Jim Hightower] says I support eliminating our farm program payments. That’s not true. I’ve participated in the program as a producer. My neighbors participate. I know what would happen to rural areas of Texas if these programs were discontinued. I do not support such an action.”
Perry certainly has benefited from the nation’s proclivity toward farm payouts; his 40-acre farm — which he finally sold in 1998 — brought him $72,687 in farm payments between 1987 and 1989 and even made him an additional $9,624 for leaving his land lying fallow. Perry’s father has also received $6,443 from cotton and wheat subsidies in 2002 and 2003.
When asked to comment on the subsidies, Perry’s office defended his record. “The governor is proud of his years in the farming industry, which he believes is an important part of the nation’s overall economy,” spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said.
But she also reiterated Perry’s position on federal spending, saying, “Out of control Washington spending is threatening every aspect of our economy, and now, more than ever, the federal government has an opportunity and obligation to have a real conversation about how to get our country’s fiscal house in order.”
Perry is expected to declare his intention to run for president during a speech in South Carolina this weekend. If he is to win the GOP nomination, however, he will have to appeal to an anti-spending, anti-government base — something that his history of accepting farm subsidies may hinder.