Farm Subsidy Tracking

In Mexico, rural subsidies reach billions of dollars and help contribute to rural life and keep farmers financially viable. Many of these subsidies however, have been diverted and much of it goes into hands that the subsidies were not intended for. Information about these subsidies is difficult to obtain and even more difficult to navigate.

To counter this, the Farm Subsidy Tracking project (Subsidios al Campo) began in Mexico in 2008 as an effort of Fundar, the Mexican Association of Rural Producers and

Commercializes (ANEC), University of California Santa Cruz, and the Environmental Working Group to build a knowledge database on how rural economic incentives are distributed in Mexico.

The project utilises a website in which data from 6 national subsidy programmes are systematically made available, aiming to shed light on how rural economic policies impact rural producers and promote accountable and transparent farm subsidy programs.

The Subsidios al Campo project and website has been a complex team effort to use available data to empower different academic, media and social groups so that they can:

  • Enforce farm subsidy beneficiary transparency and analysis on what funds are being included in farm subsidy programmes

  • Promote the right and access to public information based on the Mexican Public and Governmental Information Transparency and Access (LFTAIPG)

  • Promote accountability in public offices, decision makers and public officials involved with rural economic policies in Mexico

  • Advocate, based on found evidence, on decision making processes and policy change in order to better the life quality of small and medium rural producers.

The Subsidios al Campo website shows data since 1994 at a national, state, municipal and beneficiary level including forecasting and iconographies on subsidy distribution by state. Additionally, information is divided by subsidy program and beneficiary lists are searchable and are ranked so that individuals and companies that receive the most subsidies can be easily identified.

With over 350,000 information searches, the site has become one of the most popular information and analysis sources providing an alternative to the government's official narrative. The site's resources have helped analysts and advocates to support claims and rural economic policy changes in Mexico.

So far, Subsidios al Campo has been successfully positioning itself as an analysis tool that empowers those who reach for it. Coverage on reporting on government officers receiving farm subsidies reached great attention from the media and has even helped advocates to promote public pressure so that legal enforcement is done to non-viable beneficiaries. When the list of people that had received subsidies larger that the approved amount became public, mass-media attention and government law pressured beneficiaries to return the surplus they had received. Overall returns due to subsidy mis-management are estimated to reach up to 500 million USD.

On a public service advocacy standpoint, Subsidios al Campo has challenged the government's information and data transparency and information management standards. The site has also become a source for public complaints and reporting.

Subsidios al Campo has been an efficient data and information source but aims to continue expanding as a true transparency public reference space with the means for advocates to continue exposing subsidy mis-management and proposing more in-depth policy changes that will help better life conditions for small and medium rural producers.


TOOLS USED: web portal development programed in php and Wordpress: Linux server, MySQL

REACH: International with scope focus in Mexico

COST: High due to web portal building investment costs and project staff: project leader, programmer and data analysts

RESOURCES: computers, server and broadband conectivity


Written by Juan Casanueva