Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Release: NSAC Comment on Senator Grassley’s Release of the GAO Report on Farm Subsidy Waste and Abuse

Washington, D.C., October 8, 2013 – Today, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that details continuing serious problems with the implementation and enforcement of the farm bill’s payment limitation provisions with respect to commodity production subsidies. The report reconfirms earlier GAO reports that demonstrate abuse of the “actively engaged in farming” eligibility rules designed to target payments to working farmers. The largest abuse stems from lax standards related to qualifying for subsidies by supplying only management, and no labor, to the farm. Over the course of many decades, the lax USDA standards have consistently resulted in payments to farms that are multiple times higher than the statutory payment limits allow. The lax standards have also negated efforts by USDA to enforce the law. Comments of Ferd Hoefner, NSAC Policy Director: "The new Government Accountability Office report is a very helpful and timely reminder of why both the House and Senate have now voted for new farm bills to close the management loophole in the “actively engaged in farming” rules. That loophole has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and has concentrated farm program payments in the hands mega farms. The GAO report demonstrates once again that the subsidy system is being abused and that USDA, sadly, refuses to make the needed corrections without additional direction from Congress. "Thankfully, both the House and Senate have now spoken. In identical provisions, the pending House and Senate five-year farm bills at long last put an end to the management loophole that has made a mockery of the payment limit law and the important public policy goals Congress had in creating the limits. We urge Congress to complete the job of passing the farm bill, incorporating the historic reform in commodity program payment limits, and urge USDA to write implementing rules that this time prevent rather than invite waste, fraud, and abuse." Senator Grassley’s Press Release is here: http://www.grassley.senate.gov/news/Article.cfm?customel_dataPageID_1502=47157 The full report is available here: http://www.grassley.senate.gov/issues/upload/Agriculture-10-08-13-GAO-report-on-actively-engaged.pdf The 2004 GAO Report is available here: http://www.gao.gov/assets/250/242217.pdf

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