(KMOV) -- Farm subsidies were originally created during the New Deal, a way to help struggling farmers survive the Great Depression. In the past subsidies have been viewed as a way to keep family farmers on their land, but today many of these subsidies are going to people who don't live on farms.
News 4 discovered many of the recipients live in places like Ladue, Town & Country and Chesterfield.
The Environmental Working Group tracks data collected by the USDA. The EWG has compiled a database tracking every dollar paid out to farm subsidy recipients since 1995. Click here to see who is receiving subsidies in your zip code.
The top recipient of farm subsidies in the Chesterfield/Town & Country zip code 63017 is Gene Crandall. Crandall is a retired engineer who owns farmland in Iowa and Illinois. Since 1995 Crandall has been paid just over 1.1 million dollars in government backed subsidies according to the Environmental Working Group.
"I wake up every morning I check commodity prices, check the weather. Tuesdays I drive to Jerseyville and look at my crops," says Crandall. Although Crandall does not live on a farm, he considers himself a farmer. Crandall also owns farmland in Iowa, he receives conservation subsidies for planting trees on his property in Van Buren County.
Crandall admits he doesn't need the subsidy to survive.
According to the Environmental Working Group there are lots of people like Crandall, people who collect subsidies but would get by without government help.
Craig Cox is a vice president at the EWG in Ames, Iowa. "The bigger you get the more money you get from the government, so the top 10 percent of recipients get 62 percent of the subsidies," says Cox. He also points out many farmers do not collect any subsidies, and many admit they only take them because their neighbors take them.
The Environmental Working Group is calling for subsidy reform, they believe the program should be kept in tact as a safety net for farmers who truly face a crisis such as a drought or hail storm. They do not believe the money should continue going to suburbanites who are wealthy enough to own farmland as supplemental income.
Since 1995 the USDA has paid out 254 billion in subsidies, according to USDA data roughly a thousand of those recipients live in Ladue, Town & Country and Chesterfield.