Washington, D.C., doesn't have many farms, or farmers. Yet thousands of residents in and around the nation's capital receive millions of dollars every year in federal farm subsidies, including working-class residents in Southeast, wealthy lobbyists on K Street and well-connected lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
In neighboring Chevy Chase, Md., one of the nation's wealthiest communities, lawyers, lobbyists and at least one psychologist collected nearly $342,000 in taxpayer farm subsidies between 2008 and 2011, according to the watchdog group Open the Books.
Taxpayer subsidies were also paid out to Gerald Cassidy, the founder of one of Washington's most powerful lobbying firms, Cassidy & Associates; Charlie Stenholm, a former congressman; and Chuck Grassley, a Republican senator from Iowa. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack continues to receive subsides even though he has overseen the agency that pays them since 2009.
"All of it is entirely legal," said Adam Andrzejewski, founder of Open the Books, a group that created an online database and mobile app to track the subsidies.