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Governor’s Brothers Get $346K in Trump Farm Welfare Checks

Money is tight, says Governor Kristi Noem in defense of her visionless budget. But the Governor’s kin are seeing no lack of government money, thanks to Donald Trump. Our discussion of the $665 million in farm Trumpfare checks that are keeping South Dakota farmers on life support led me to peruse the Environmental Working Group database and find that Racota Valley Ranch, the corporation held by Noem’s brothers Robb and Rock Arnold, has received $345,775 in Market Facilitation Payments from 2018 through October 31, 2019.

$345,775: that’s enough cash to pay seven teachers the average South Dakota teaching salary (or 6.9 teachers the target salary that Noem says we can’t afford to reach or raise the way state law requires).

$345,775: that’s enough to build 87% of the Cyber Cync Incubator (come on DSU: Cyber Cyncubator!) for which the Governor is seeking a special appropriation.

$345,775: that’s enough to cover the federal subsidy for 101,400 free school lunches, enough to feed all 834 kids in the Hamlin County school district for two-thirds of the school year.

$345,775… and they aren’t even required to go out and get a paying job to receive those checks.

Racota Valley Ranch has raked in $4.13 million in farm subsidies since 1995. Noem owned a share of the farm during much of that period. And with Trump now saying he might keep the trade war going until after the 2020 election, Noem’s kin may get to sit back and cruise on another full year of six-figure farm welfare checks.

Also of note among the Trumpfare handout recipients is Former Ag Secretary Walt Bones’s Hexad Farms has gotten $350,344 in MFP. Just a few weeks ago, the state approved $756,000 in tax kickbacks to subsidize an expansion of Bones’s Turner County Dairy into Minnehaha County.

That’s South Dakota: run by Republicans, fed by socialism.


  1. Mark 2019-12-06 08:27

    Well, to try and stay in lockstep with
    our GOP Godfathers in Pierre, maybe
    The fine folks at Racota Valley Ranch
    and Hexad farms need to take a drug test before they receive their welfare checks.

  2. jerry 2019-12-06 09:21

    Why would these guys need to be bribed? Didn’t they already take a blood oath to be in lockstep? How do we taxpayers know that this money isn’t being spent on money laundering, or the lottery?

  3. jerry 2019-12-06 09:34

    700,000 more American citizens will lose food stamps. While these fat cats just slurp up the cream. We Americans are allowing the slow starvation of our people and their children so that “Crystal’s” brothers can buy more new toys for their insatiable spending sprees.

    I wonder why the American public is not being informed that while they watch this crooked behavior, they will be the next targets.

  4. Loren 2019-12-06 10:10

    “Market Facilitation Payments?” Really?? Not farm welfare? Not social engineering? Not wealth transfer? Farmers get market facilitation and the schmuck that needs food assistance is a welfare queen? Gotta say that the GOP folks were totally awake in English class for the adjective lessons.

  5. Aaron 2019-12-06 10:18

    By looking at how far back the EWG database goes, taxpayers ought to accept that they are going to subsidize farmers no matter who’s in charge. They could then demand mandatory conservation compliance for all and any program participation to at least get something for their money.

  6. Angela Clark 2019-12-06 11:56

    And all these farmers get so angry when a woman with kids gets welfare checks of $500 a month or less.


  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-06 12:31

    Aaron, I’m open to that idea. Conservation requirements would be far more practical and more directly serve the public interest than making them take drug tests (useless, as we know for welfare recipients, but fair revenge on them for proposing such punitive measures to punish the real poor).

    We definitely need to be more honest about how socialism, far from some alien enemy force, is really essential to preserving this nation’s food production system.

  8. Debbo 2019-12-06 20:40

    I can’t figure out how to search for individual farms on EWG’s database. States and counties is easy enough but where do I find a list of individual farms within a SD county?

  9. cibvet 2019-12-06 23:43


  10. Debbo 2019-12-07 02:22

    Thank you!

  11. Dwayne Ingalls 2019-12-07 11:28

    What a scumbag article, which is common for desperate liberals:). They received the SAME subsidies that all other farmers received, but who wants to let facts get in the way of a story. Luckily in SD these worthless liberals are few and far between. We’re all blessed to have Kristi Noem and her steady hand as governor of our state!

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-07 22:30

    “Worthless liberals”? Well, I’m not worth the extra $345,755 that the Arnold brothers are worth thanks to Trumpfare checks….

  13. grudznick 2019-12-07 22:54

    Mr. H, are you getting shorted $345,755 in pocket change as a teacher? That, sir, is Lora-Hubbel insaner than most. Send me half your paycheck, and grudznick will lobby for you.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-08 08:21

    If Dwayne were paying attention, he’d have noticed that that this blog post isn’t fundamentally a “liberal” critique. This post far more logically reads as a conservative critique:

    Able-bodied men are receiving welfare checks from the government, which skews the free market, disincentivizes work, and fosters dependency on government.

    A RINO who claims to support our true conservative values offers no critique of her family’s dependence on socialism, thus undermining the integrity of the Republican platform and public confidence in the notion that Republicans offer a real alternative to the Leftist Pelosi Democrats who are trying to ruin our country.

    See, Dwayne? You totally misread the post.

    Scarce public resources are being used to prop up a business that can’t survive on its own instead of funding other necessary public goods or providing tax relief.

  15. jerry 2019-12-08 09:56

    How much of a BRIBE did you get Mr. Ingalls? Was it the same as your neighbors?

  16. kj trailer trash 2019-12-08 16:27

    Mr. Ingalls, what the HELL is desperate about pointing out the fact that rich farmers get way more than their fair share of farm welfare? If you can point out that the majority of the wealthy farm welfare recipients are liberals, you have at least a small amount of ground to stand on. There’s nothing moral about a few getting most of the farm welfare while small farmers of both political affiliations are getting chump change in exchange for the Right’s hero Trump ruining their markets with his idiotic, ill-informed tariffs. And, by all means, there is nothing even remotely “steady hand” about a Governer who is so far beyond stupid that she wastes a mil-and-a-half on a meth-problem publicity campaign that makes our state look like a bunch of halfwits. I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: she could have gotten the word out for free with press releases. She didn’t need to waste state money on ads.

  17. Monica Campbell 2020-04-21 11:34

    Wasn’t too long ago that Kristi campaigned on how devastated her family was after almost loosing the farm because of her dads poor planning. And now we’re subsiding it’s existence.

  18. MaryLamb 2020-04-23 13:51

    I wish someone here would look up how much rich DEMOCRAT farmers received. Nope. Only interested in REPUBLICAN farmers. Basing your opinion on WHO is doing something and not WHAT is being done is hypocrisy at it’s finest. It’s dishonest and makes everything you say suspect.

  19. James Nielsen 2020-04-23 14:08

    OK, you complain about Racota Valley Ranch getting payments but what about the other 20 that is on the list? does that make them wrong as well?? This story is very one sided and I feel the newspaper (Dakota Free Press) has an agenda here that is anything but honest reporting.

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-04-24 12:24

    So just to make sure, James, you’re o.k. with the Governor’s family enjoying six-figure welfare checks from the government?

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-04-24 12:24

    So just to make sure, Mary Lamb, you find it disgusting that anyone takes enormous Trump farm welfare checks, regardless of what party they belong to, right?

  22. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-04-24 12:26

    Mary’s hypocrisy point is keenly useful. Republicans tell us that people should be dependent on the government. They vilify those who sponge off the taxpayers. Thus, Mary Lamb appears to say that Noem’s spouting of those Republican talking points is hypocrisy at its finest and makes everything she says suspect.

    Funny—that’s exactly what I was saying.

  23. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-04-24 12:32

    I get the impression that a lot of people complain about “one-sided” reporting only when the news points out the things their side does wrong. They are probably the same side sitting at home soothing themselves with the one-sided affirmations of their bigotry and ignorance from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, et al.

    Yes, I do have an agenda; exposing the hypocrisy of our elected leaders.

    I also report 100% honestly. Nothing I’ve said in this report is false. It’s supported by evidence… which is better than anything James and Mary have spouted. Give me evidence of massive Trump checks taken by Democrats whose sister has campaigned against government welfare checks, and I’ll be more than happy to report that, too. But James and Mary can’t give examples. They just want to throw in their drive-by cheap shots to try to dismiss facts that discomfit them by pointing out the hypocrisy of their idols.

  24. mike from iowa 2020-04-24 13:31

    DFP is a newspaper?

  25. James Nielsen 2020-04-24 20:08

    I don’t condone politicians profiteering from their position but this was paid BEFORE she was governor of the state. I am just curious as to what you think about the other farming and ranching groups (including corp. farms) receiving 6 figure payments undr the same program??

  26. grudznick 2020-04-24 20:51

    Mr. Nielsen, I think it is much like the American football team from that libbie state to the east taking a kicker with their 3rd round pick.

  27. jerry 2020-04-24 22:09

    When was GNOem ever not a politician profiting from taxpayers?

  28. James Nielsen 2020-04-25 08:16

    Cory Allen Heidelberger, I understand what you are saying and appreciate what you would like to report (and it is refreshing) but, Trump and Noem are not my idols, in fact I place them in the smae general classification as the rest of that bunch in Washington who sit in their high thrones making judgements upon us little people while raking in tons of money each year in contrast to our founding fathers who were paid a stipend for their duties because they honestly served to make this country better. My father once said that what we need are less professional politicians and more true Americans serving in office. My point to making a comment in the first place was to bring light to the fact that it wasn’t just Noem (as representative or governor) who got the farm financial assistance but many other farmers and ranchers as well and the amounts given out was not by who they were but the size of their operation and the losses sustained.

  29. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-04-25 08:27

    James Nielsen, at no point did I claim that Governor Kristi Noem’s brothers were the only people who received Trump farm welfare checks. Note that I opened with the statement that South Dakota farmers received $665 million in Trump farm welfare payments, making clear that this dependence on federal handouts is widespread in South Dakota agriculture.

    But the point here is to point out the hypocrisy of our Republican leaders. I spotlight the Arnold brothers because their sister has made a show and a career out of criticizing welfare and government assistance, when in fact her family depends on that government assistance right along with lots of other South Dakotans.

  30. Aaron 2020-04-25 09:07

    Keep in mind Kristi is still in the federally subsidized crop insurance business and the ewg site doesn’t list $ amounts for that going to farmers and agents.

  31. KC from Minnesota 2020-04-26 04:33

    It’s obvious that most people commenting here know very little about farming. I don’t know much about South Dakota’s economy but I would guess that, other than tourism in the southwest corner, it is basically an agrarian state and that almost all businesses will benefit more than the actual farmer does from your so called “farm welfare” check. Also…please check the reviews of “EWG” before quoting them.

  32. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-04-26 06:42

    Boy, who are these strangers who waltz in after one Facebook share thinking they can drop one comment and summarily dismiss evidence and reason with a single ad hominem attack? Declaring that people with whom you disagree “know “very little about farming” doesn’t make facts disappear. The fact that “KC from Minnesota” claims to know very much about farming does not change the fact that the sky is blue, the Big Sioux is thick with ag pollution, and that Kristi Noem and her family have received over four million dollars in farm welfare checks since 1995, despite Kristi Noem’s public position that dependence on the federal government is a sign of weakness.

    One does not get to dismiss EWG as a source without reliable evidence. “Reviews” of EWG online are not reliable sources. You have no evidence that the statements I’ve made based on their evidence are false. Kristi Noem’s brothers got six-figure farm welfare checks from the government.

    Of course, if one is going to require that we read “reviews” of every source before citing them, then we’re going to need to see the reviews of “KC from Minnesota” before taking her/his comments seriously.

    No one here disputes that farm subsidies provide benefits beyond the direct monetary payments to the farmers who depend on them. We understand keenly that the free market does not compensate farmers for the value they provide to society and that socialist mechanisms must thus be kept in place to keep them in operation and keep the food supply stable, an enormous benefit for all Americans. We understand that food stamps, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and other social assistance programs for the poor operate on the same principle: All Americans derive enormous benefit from making sure that the poor and unfortunate among us have a safety net that keeps them and their children fed, sheltered, healthy, and educated. A social safety net for the poor reduces poverty, disease, and demand on hospitals and law enforcement. A social safety net acts as economic stimulus, allowing more people to buy basic goods and keep their local grocery stores and farmers in business and helping folks who hit hard times to re-enter the workforce sooner and resume contributing to our GDP. We all benefit from socialism. We would just like Kristi Noem and the rich farmers who get socialist sic-figure checks to acknowledge that fact in their campaign statements and their governing decisions instead of branding welfare from everyone but their rich relatives as a sin.

    We also understand that Donald Trump’s tariffs wrecked one free-market mechanism—international trade—that helps keep farmers afloat and that further socialist intervention was thus needed to make reparations for the retaliatory tariffs the White House provoked by raising taxes on American consumers.

    So, send me the next one-off Facebook commenter. I can sit here and restate facts all week long while those drive-bys hurry back to their reassuring Fox News memes to drown out the hypocrisy of their voting habits.

  33. jerry 2020-04-26 08:50

    Bravo Cory!

  34. Aaron 2020-04-26 11:39

    It’s pretty common for supporters of the status quo in agriculture to claim anyone with objections doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

  35. SD is 20 per cent nonwhite 2021-03-03 07:10

    Many SD farmers are Republicans, and they get Ag Department Welfare checks just like Gov. family. Some of them also complain about nonwhites voting for Democrats in Georgia. The Georgia voters most of them never get an Ag Welfare check as big as Noems family.

    It’s Ok for Rep. farmers, but drug test these GA folks if they dare to apply for food stamps, which maxes out at $1400 month for large families?

    Cut food stamps, suppress the vote with more laws, and give landowners more money because T messed up trade with China? Socialism for Republicans, everyone else capitalism.

    Mooselini has to be voted out or impeached in 2022 or sooner.

  36. SD is 20 per cent nonwhite 2021-03-03 07:16

    Hypocrisy of Capitol Insurrection Party!

    It’s rugged individualism for us if we take Ag Welfare checks, it’s communism if we vote for Democrats?

    What liars.

    They aren’t rugged. They suck on the largest government tests and yell loud when Democrats dare to VOTE or apply for food stamps because millions are unemployed due to Ts bad coronavirus response.

    We will VOTE.

    That scares the bejeesus out of them every time.

    We should elect Governors every 6 months or each year. THAT’s accountability!

  37. SD is 20 per cent nonwhite 2021-03-03 07:17

    Auto correct typo. They suck on the largest government teats…

  38. Tom Lucas 2023-09-12 22:48

    Just heard excellent speech by Gov Noem about Calvin Coolidge and hard work. What a hypocrit.

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