COLUMBIA — Farmer and Republican candidate for the Missouri House of Representatives 21st District John Cauthorn touts less federal government as one of his top issues. He’s also received $435,921 in federal farm subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the past 15* years, according to a database of USDA subsidies maintained by the Environmental Working Group.
“I would just as soon that the government get out of agriculture,” Cauthorn said. “At the federal level, the federal government is so messed up now, what we’re even receiving (in subsidies) has diminished in recent years.”
He said he received the subsidies for financial assistance.
“I rent ground, and the landlords want that help,” Cauthorn said. “... sometimes it can be a safety net in tough times.”
He doesn’t think the agricultural subsidies, which deter an increase in product prices and often are paid out to manage the supply of certain crops, should be available from the government.
“I think the farming community should be based on free enterprise,” Cauthorn said. “Everybody that farms has basically taken that money. We feel like we’re being controlled.”
Mike Becker, who’s running against Cauthorn in the Aug. 3 primary, said he thinks it’s backwards for a candidate to propose eliminating social programs in Missouri but accept federal financial assistance.
“The thing about that is that yes, farmers need subsidies on crops to compete in the world market,” Becker said. “But to say to the federal government, ‘help me, help me, help me’ and then in interviews to say, ‘we have to cut, cut, cut,’ it’s like saying it’s OK for me to get it, but not you. I think that’s wrong.”
Cauthorn, who supports cutting social programs and tax credits to balance the state’s budget, said the state doesn’t offer much help to farmers.
“About all the state does for agriculture is offer tax credits for enterprises that have a good a return for the taxpayers,” Cauthorn said.