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Ag Committee Members Press USDA on Payments to Deceased Farmers

Dan Economy, Industry News Release

Senate Ag Committee members Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan raised concerns with the USDA’s Farm Service Agency about farm program payments to deceased farmers.
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The Senators sent a letter to the agency, saying that they need to be careful stewards of taxpayer money and work to avoid wasteful payments. The letter says, “As we prepare to write the next farm bill, we write to request more information so we can understand more about USDA payments to an estate after the death of a farmer.”

Current law says farmers must be “actively engaged in farming” in order to receive farm program benefits. Farmers do that by providing labor or management. USDA recently issued guidance that considers an estate to be actively engaged – and thus, eligible for farm payments – for up to two years after the death of a farmer, without review.

The Government Accountability Office criticized USDA payments to the estate of dead farmers, saying it’s helped heirs to game the system and evade payment limits by collecting benefits on behalf of the deceased family member.

From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service.