The USDA and its Congressional enablers probably don't pretend that the money doled out in cotton subsidies should be used to actually help produce cotton. So it's not surprising that the recipients spent the money just like any other Americans who got a boatload of free money would spend it.
In USDA Cotton Subsidies Pay for Cars, Elephant Lamps, Artwork, Elizabeth Harrington gives some details from a recent OIG report:
The program, which was created in the 2008 Farm bill, pays textile mills 3 cents per pound of upland cotton they produce to be used on investments, equipment, and new property. However, the OIG found at least $900,000 in payments that went to manufacturer’s “personal use.”
For instance, one recipient used government funds to buy two Ford Explorers, costing over $45,500. The recipient bought a Ford Explorer and then traded it in for a new one 11 months later, the day before a government deadline requiring the funds to be spent or paid back to the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).
Use it or lose it. That's government efficiency for you. But since that's how all government agencies relate to their budgets, how could they come up with anything else? More:
“Altogether, we questioned 75 expenditures, totaling over $2.4 million,” the OIG said. “This occurred because FSA has not implemented effective internal controls to determine which capital expenditures are eligible uses of EAAP funds.”
A recipient also spent $6,500 worth of cotton subsidies to “to decorate executive offices with carpet and artwork.”
Our tax dollars at work.