Marlin Stutzman has a credibility problem. On one hand, he decries subsidies and states,
“I think it’s time to get rid of farm subsidies.” “The subsidies only manipulate the market.”
But on the other hand, he accepts subsidies for his businesses – a total of $179,370 in his name alone – the bulk of which went to Michigan farming. And, when you include the $819,202 paid to his “partner” father, Albert Stutzman, the subsidy total jumps to just shy of $1,000,000. Pretty nifty gift considering Stutzman opposes subsidies.
His policy maneuvering has to lead one to ask just which position does he support? Now that he is in the spotlight, he seems to be taking a hard right in disowning subsidy dependence. Beginning in 1997 – over 13 years ago – he and his family began taking subsidies and did not miss a year.
“Yeah, we still do (take subsidies), and we have to by law.” “I don’t think it’s right, but by law the producer has to take the farm subsidies. We’re mandated to take them if we’re going to farm certain properties that are owned by other landlords.”
These statements require explanation. Farm subsidies come with qualifications that must be met – either by the landlord-owner leasing farmland to another to farm or by the owner-operator farming his or her own land. Which is it for Stutzman? Either situation hinges on qualifications.
Somewhere back in the Stutzman past, an application had to be made to receive the subsidies, in particular for the land actually owned by the Stutzman family . The USDA Conservation program does not simply go looking for farmers who qualify. If the land is owned by the Stutzmans, then one of the Stutzmans made application for the subsidies.
If, on the other hand, the land is owned by a landlord and leased to Stutzman, the same criteria applies – someone made an application. The subsidy value can be built into the acreage rental value of the lease amount with the owner of the land receiving a small amount and the producer receiving a larger amount. Either way, Stutzman benefits from the very thing he opines he so detests.
That’s what I call giving real meaning to “actions speak louder than words.”