by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Elizabeth Harrington of the Washington Free Beacon shines light on one federal department’s questionable efforts to create jobs.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says it is creating jobs by spending millions on snowmobiles, fire trucks, studying a “gluten-free mill,” and other local initiatives.
The federal agency announced $18.1 million in loans and grants last month, describing the projects as an “efficient way” to benefit taxpayers.
The spending includes over $150,000 for two snowmobile clubs in Vermont.
The “Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club” will receive $73,572 and “Country Riders Snowmobile” will get $76,832 to “purchase a snowmobile to support local businesses and promote tourism.”
Many of the projects appear unrelated to agriculture, including $171,000 to build a parking lot in Marianna, Fla., and a $1,760,000 zero-interest loan to expand a retirement community in Orange City, Iowa. Another project will cost taxpayers $85,000 to “beautify a downtown area into an attractive park” in Boonville, Ind.
A quarter of a million dollars is being spent to build a “medically oriented gym” in Iowa. Funds will also go towards local fire departments, including $200,000 for a fire engine in Trenton, N.C., and $300,000 to help build a fire station in South Dakota.
Two local Chamber of Commerce offices in Tennessee will receive $10,000 and $3,500 on “various marketing materials,” and a nonprofit organization in Vermont is getting $78,098 for a “promotional campaign to attract Canadian shoppers.”