Jeff Flake Opposes Farm Subsidies; Flake Family Farm Took Subsidies

Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, July 29, 2011, after the Republican-contr
Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, July 29, 2011, after the Republican-controlled House approved emergency legislation Friday night to prevent a threatened government default and bundled it off to swift and certain defeat in the Senate. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

The family of Rep. Jeff Flake, the Republican nominee for Arizona's open U.S. Senate seat, has received farm subsidies under federal programs that he has proposed ending.

Flake's family benefited to the tune of $254,121 in farm subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture between 1995 and 2004, according to the Environmental Working Group. The subsidies were for the F Bar Cattle Company in Snowflake, Ariz., which is operated by Flake's family.

Specifically, the EWG database lists the company as receiving $68,971 in farm conservation subsidies and $185,150 in farm disaster subsidies from 1995 to 2004. No farm subsidies are recorded for 2005 through 2011.

The database also notes that the Flake family received $118,448 in livestock subsidies between 1995 and 2011. The livestock subsidies were not broken down by year on EWG's website.

Flake, who was elected to the House in 2002, is running against Democrat Richard Carmona for the seat of retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R). He has been endorsed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the GOP's vice presidential nominee.

Flake has been a leading opponent of farm subsidies, including proposing legislation in 2011 to end direct payments from the Agriculture Department to farmers under the 1996 Freedom to Farm Act. In 2007, Flake joined with Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) to propose legislation to gradually reduce direct payments to farmers, while creating new risk management accounts for farms. Flake and Kind also teamed with Reps. Ryan and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) to criticize the 2007 farm bill for not reducing direct payments for commodity crops.

At the time, the four said that the farm legislation, which expires later this month, was subsidizing millionaires. Congress is now negotiating a new farm bill, with federal subsidies and crop insurance payments being major points of debate. Last year, Flake told Politico that farm subsidies were "low hanging fruit" in the federal budget and proposed language to lower the income range to qualify for the subsidies.

In 2007, Flake told CNN Newsroom that he was against the commodity crop subsidies and that his family's farm had not received such aid.

"Yes, family and extended family," Flake said at the time. "But I should say, I should point out, we are not among those that receive subsidies. Unless you're farming a good amount of corn or cotton or soybeans or rice or wheat, you're not receiving much of a subsidy. It's those favored commodities where the bulk of the money goes."

Flake's campaign spokesman, Andrew Wilder, stressed that the subsidies received by the Flake family were not the commodity subsidies that he has particularly pushed to end. He also said that Flake is willing to oppose federal payouts that benefit his own family.

"In fact, Jeff is so fiscally responsible that he opposes farm subsidies for his own extended family," Wilder said in an email. "As highlighted by CBS’ 60 Minutes, he's even had family members request earmarks, but that certainly didn't hamper his effort to end the practice."

Carmona's campaign declined to comment on the subsidies.

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