The database, which debuted in November 2004, has had a massive effect on public consciousness about crop subsidies—both within and outside the farming community. It allows farmers to check up on their neighbors, gives activists ammo in their fight to change the USDA, and makes the subsidy program accountable in ways it never has been before. It's also a fascinating way to spend an hour or three, finding out who gets money for what. (Another good read: the EWG's Mulchblog, which pulls out highlights from the database and tracks the response to its release, though one detects a wrathful glee in the organization's coverage of its own exploits that is less impressive than the raw numbers.)
Last year, the media picked up on the fact that Baller Scottie Pippen has made bank off the USDA. Now the spotlight has landed on a deserving Seattle recipient. This year's subsidyposterboy: Paul Allen, whom the EWG reports has having received $30,687 for his farm in Idaho. Of course, that only represents 0.00017 percent of Allen's estimated 18B net worth, but way to think multiple income streams, Paul!