A July report from the Government Accountability Office found that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) paid more than $1 billion in subsidies to 172,801 dead farmers during a six-year period. Assuming there are no zombies piloting tractors across the Corn Belt, something has gone awry.
The USDA admits it has no mechanism for checking the pulses of its beneficiaries, and current rules allow subsidies to continue for up to two years after death, as long as the farm stays in business. But 40 percent of the erroneously awarded money went to people who had been dead for at least three years, half of that to people who had been dead for at least seven years. One Illinois farmer, dead since 1995, received $400,000 in payments from the USDA from 1999 to 2005