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New Rule Could Limit Farm Payments to Non-Farmers

Photo: New proposals could limit who can get farm bill payments. Photo by GDNS.
Photo: New proposals could limit who can get farm bill payments. Photo by GDNS.
March 30, 2015

YANKTON, S.D. - The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to limit who can receive federal farm payments. The agency's newly-proposed rule would limit farm payments - people who may be designated as farm managers but are not actively engaged in farm operations would no longer receive them.

In the Farm Bill, Congress gave USDA the authority to address this loophole for joint ventures and general partnerships, while exempting family farm operations from whatever new rule the USDA ultimately implements. Traci Bruckner, senior associate for agriculture and Conservation Policy at the Center for Rural Affairs, says the current proposal doesn't don't go far enough.

"We think there are still plenty of loopholes in the rule that they drafted," says Bruckner. "They say we're not allowed to apply it to farm structures solely as ones made up of family members. But we disagree with that and think they still have the authority to write a stronger rule than they did."

Bruckner thinks the Ag Department also creates more problems by leaving more than one rule in effect.

"You basically have two rules now, in a sense - one that applies to farms structured as non-family members, and no rule that applies to farms structured as family members," she says. "Basically, those farms who currently are structured with non-family members, they'll hire an attorney and reorganize, so that they don't lose their pay."

Public comments on the proposed rule can be made online at 'regulations.gov,' and can be made until May 26.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD