September 1, 2015
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - The federal government has been paying farmers hundreds of millions of dollars to grow water-thirsty crops in what was once desert.
An Associated Press investigation shows two federal programs handed out more than $687 million in subsidies over the past two years to hundreds of farmers in California and Arizona. The subsidies came even as the two states were wracked by drought.
One program pays farmers for planting water-needy crops such as cotton and rice. The other provides cut-rate water for irrigation.
Farmers and government officials strongly defend the subsidies, saying they produce an abundance of food and jobs. But environmentalists, city dwellers and some members of Congress say the government should end or scale back the policy.
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