Stabenow, Grassley Press USDA on Farm Payments to Deceased Farmers

A news release yesterday from the Senate Agriculture Committee indicated that, “Today, U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and senior Agriculture Committee member U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) raised concerns with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) regarding farm program payments that are made to the estates of deceased farmers.

“‘We must be careful stewards of taxpayer money and work to avoid wasteful payments,’ said the Senators. ‘As we prepare to write the next Farm Bill, we write to request information so we can understand more about USDA payments to an estate after the death of a farmer.’

“Under current law, farmers are required to be ‘actively engaged in farming‘ in order to receive farm program benefits 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 has criticized USDA payments to estates which have allowed some heirs to game the system and evade payment limits by collecting benefits on behalf of the deceased in addition to their own property.”

The Senator’s letter to the Acting Administrator of FSA is available here.

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