New Chance to Reform Unlimited Farm Payments

New Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is reviewing a rule issued by the outgoing administration to redefine what is required to be considered an active farmer and eligible to receive farm payments.
The standard became so lax in recent years that investors were considered actively involved in farm management by virtue of participating in two conference calls annually. That allowed mega farms to get unlimited payments by forming general partnerships with investor partners, each qualifying the farm for another set of payments up to the limit.

The rule proposed in December is not much stronger, so we are pleased that Secretary Vilsack is reviewing it. It would qualify investors as active farmers if they participate in quarterly conference calls, with each taking responsibility for one topic on the call. One investor would take responsibility for financial statements, another purchase plans, etc.

Senators Byron Dorgan and Chuck Grassley are seeking a higher standard requiring each partner to either work half time in the operation or provide at least half of the management on his/her share of the operation, including supervising employees, scheduling field operations, etc. We agree with them. Each of these proposals appropriately allows crop share landlords to receive payments on crops received as rent without being active in management.

For more information or to send a message to the USDA visit: Suggestions on points to make in your message to the USDA can also be found here.

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