FILE - In this June 18, 2011 file photo, Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. Should Perry conclude that voter discontent has left him an opening to enter the presidential race, the longtime Texas governor would be among the GOP field's most conservative candidates. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) (AP)

Rick Perry opposes federal payments he once received

The Texas governor decries the sort of government programs that gave him $80,000 as a farmer

Natasha Lennard
August 9, 2011 8:10PM (UTC)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, in stressing his opposition to "out of control Washington spending," disagrees with federal subsidies to the agriculture industry. But this wasn't always so. In fact, as a farmer himself, he embraced federal agriculture programs and personally benefited from farm subsidies to the tune of $80,000.

As the Austin American Statesman reports, when Perry was running for the state's agriculture commissioner position in 1990, he had strong words about the farm subsidies that had helped his 40-acre farm:


"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 then said.

In the mid-1990s, however, Perry began to oppose the agriculture programs. Now he is firmly opposed even to federal support for using grain such as corn in the production of ethanol -- a subsidy he continued to favor even after he announced in 1995 that "we must carefully but thoughtfully move our farmers and ranchers away from a subsidized system to a market-driven system."

The Statesman broke down the federal program payments the Texas governor personally received in the past: The government paid Perry $9,624 not to farm his 40 acres in Haskell County in the 1990s and "his tax returns from when he was in the [Texas] Legislature show he received $72,687 in agricultural program payments between 1987 and 1989, when he was farming his land. His father, J.R., received a total of $6,443 in cotton and wheat subsidies in 2002 and 2003. As for his 40-acre farm, Perry sold it in 1998. Perry claimed a $17,693 loss on his federal income taxes for that year."


The Statesman asked, "Will subsidies to farmer Perry come back to haunt presidential hopeful Perry?" But it seems that being haunted by past participation in government programs is just par for the course for Republican presidential candidates campaigning on fiscal conservatism. Michele Bachmann has been lambasted for reportedly taking advantage of the federal mortgage lending program she publicly opposed and for the fact that the controversial Christian therapy clinic she co-owns with her husband received $137,000 in Medicaid funds -- and she may be the Iowa front-runner.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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