John Cougar Mellencamp, as we know too well, was born in a small town. Seymour, Indiana, to be exact, population 20,000. The Coug is also the co-founder of Farm Aid, the 20-year-old annual concert to raise money and awareness for the beleaguered family farm. As he explained in an entertaining Washington Post profile last December,
"When Reagan was president, the way they treated the small family farm, running them out of business," he says. "How in the hell can a small family farm compete with the laws leaning toward corporate farming? What's the little guy going to do?"
Well, one option for "the little guy"—including the little guy whose blood relative has sold 30 million records domestically—is to gobble up hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars.
According to the good folks at the Environmental Working Group, who maintain an eminently searchable database of farm subsidies, there were 34 recipients with the last name of "Mellencamp" between 1995-2003. Of those, a full 22 come from the Hoosier State, including 12 in the small town of … Seymour! Here's a list of Seymour's subsidized Mellencamps:
$383,673.00 James A. and Michael Mellencamp
$249,590.95 George Mellencamp
$157,219.56 David K. Mellencamp
$152,639.65 Mark Mellencamp
$152,424.00 Gary W. Mellencamp
$110,052.72 Mary Mellencamp
$46,172.47 Elsie Mellencamp
$30,527.87 Matthew Grover Mellencamp
$10,929.31 Frederick J. Mellencamp
$2,582.14 Jerry Ross Mellencamp
$1,015.00 Victor H. Mellencamp
$420.00 Andrew Mellencamp
That's $1.14 million for the small-town Mellencamps. Their other 10 subsidy-receiving Indiana namesakes, incidentally, farm within a 50 mile radius of Seymour. Like most Indianans, the bulk of the Mellencamps' hand-outs come in the form of corn subsidies.