LOS ANGELES – At $50 a spoonful, caviar is a luxury most Americans can't afford. But tax dollars are subsidizing a company that makes it.
As part of an $86 million program to support rural economies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (search) gave the company Czar Nicholai $115,000 to help market caviar and sturgeon. It gave cotton giant Calcot $340,000 to market cotton towels and $500,000 for Sunsweet to remarket prune juice as plum juice. Ocean Spray (search) got $225,000 to sell cranberry juice in Britain. The list goes on and on.
"We're creating an environment where farmers, ranchers and small business can prosper," said Gilbert Gonzales, undersecretary of the USDA. "You need to look at the membership and the ownership of these entities again. You're talking about farmers and ranchers that are the ultimate beneficiaries of these programs."
Some critics say this is nothing more than corporate welfare.
"We have to ask ourselves, how many people are going to be helped by subsidizing a caviar-producing company?" said Kris Vosburgh of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association.
"It is a scandalous waste of taxpayers' dollars and I mean, we're talking about financing projects for companies that are successful."
Click on the video box at the top of this story to watch a report by FOX News' William LaJeunesse.