Report: Nonprofits 'Gaming the System' for Farm Subsidies that Never Reach Farms
by William Bigelow 9 Mar 2014, 4:35 PM PDT
Some nonprofit organizations whose stated purposes have nothing to do with farming have enjoyed hundreds of thousands of dollars in farm subsidies over the past ten years, according to a FoxNews.com report.
1. The Three Year Economic Saving Program, which supervises Muhammad farms, is owned by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. The farm is located in Georgia, but the government subsidies, nearly $160,000, have gone to Farrakhan’s home in Chicago since 2002. The program, which was incorporated on Sept. 12, 2001, has been listed as “Not in Good Standing” by Illinois’s secretary of state since last September. The Office of the Illinois Secretary of State said the program was “involuntarily" dissolved by the State of Illinois on Feb. 1.
The Illinois Attorney General Office said it has no record of the program's ever being a charity. Adam Andrzejewski, founder of OpenTheBooks.com, asked, “'Not in good standing' doesn’t seem to trouble the Cincinnati office of the IRS. Why is Farrakhan’s charity allowed to receive federal money? This is no longer about farm policy, it’s merely a transfer mechanism from one set of Americans who pay taxes to another set who know how to game the system.”
The Muhammad Farms website states that donors to the program can make “tax deductible contributions” to the Three Year Economic Saving Program. However, neither Muhammad Farms, the Nation of Islam, nor the Three Year Program have a listing on the IRS’s public database of 990 forms, the forms that can testify that the program or company has true nonprofit tax-exempt status. The Three Year program may be evading filing such forms by claiming it is a religious program, which would make it exempt. The Freedom of Information Act states that nonprofits are required to show their 990 forms for the past three years if requested, but the Nation of Islam would not return phone calls when the forms were requested.
2. Seven waterfowl habitat foundations based in Chicago that aim to protect waterfowl at the Putnam County, Illinois, Dixon Waterfowl Refuge have received roughly $3.4 million in taxpayer funds. Each foundation has amassed more than $50,000 in subsidies. The foundations are part of the Wetlands Initiative, which states that it is “dedicated to restoring the wetland resources of the Midwest.” All of the foundations are based in the same downtown Chicago high-rise office; they share the same agent and IRS 990 filer and gather their subsidies from the same USDA county office.
Despite the fact that the foundations claim to be based on protecting waterfowl, none of the ducks each foundation is named for is endangered. They include the Pintail, Ringbill, Blue-Wing Teal, Green-Wing Teal, Wood, Mallard, and Gadwall ducks. Not only are those ducks not endangered, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists them as being “of the least concern.” When queried, the Wetlands Initiative's finance manager would not answer why there were seven separate foundations.
3. The National Audubon Society, located in downtown Manhattan, has collected almost $763,000 in the last ten years, with its payment recipients located in eight separate states.
Since 1995, only $114,000 of the foundation’s $932,801 in farm subsidies have been allocated for crop and livestock payments; the rest has been used for conservation. FoxNews.com could confirm that of the $114,000, only one farm affiliated with the Society, Aullwood Farm in Dayton, Ohio, received payments, which amounted to no more than $3,224. The National Audubon site lists no centers or sanctuaries in Minnesota, but that state’s chapter has still obtained over $6,000 in subsidies over the past ten years. The foundation’s 990 form states that 26 “key employees” together accumulate a total of more than $8 million each year, with the National Audubon Society’s president earning at least $460,000.