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City slickers harvest cash from farm aid program

Some Americans who are not farming their land are still collecting hundreds of thousands of tax dollars in farm aid very year. More than 800,000 people nationwide collected about $5 billion in direct aid payments last year, according to the Environmental Working Group.

"You will be shocked to discover how many of your neighbors in your suburban and urban neighborhoods are collecting farm subsidies. It just doesn't make sense," group spokesman Scott Faber said. 

People who have an ownership interest in a farm receive direct payments, regardless of need and even if a farm has never produced a crop. A recent government audit found that the U.S. Department of Agriculture does a poor job of tracking land use.

"We're handing out to people that have no need for them and don't necessarily use them for farming," according to Dan Smith, of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. 

For instance, information provided by the government because of a Freedom of Information Act request showed one person living in downtown Washington, D.C., collected farm aid last year. "Especially in an area of large budget deficits, we can't afford this type of nonsense anymore," U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wisconsin, said.

Federal lawmakers have made plans to get rid of direct payments in the next farm bill. But if a new bill isn't passed by Sept. 30, 2013, the current bill will automatically be renewed, and hundreds of thousands of people nationwide will continue collecting billions of taxpayer dollars.

To see who in your Zip code may be collecting this farm aid, go to Farm.EWG.org.

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