USDA ends farm program payments to those not 'actively engaged'

USDA ends farm program payments to those not 'actively engaged'

USDA tweaks regulations for farm program payments, consistent with 2014 Farm Bill

Farm program payments will only be issued to active managers of farms, USDA said Tuesday, closing a loophole that previously allowed individuals who were not actively part of farm management to receive farm payments.

Related: USDA proposes changes to 'actively engaged' definition

Only active managers of farms that operate as joint ventures or general partnerships may receive the payments. The regulation, which exempts family farm operations, is consistent with Congress' direction in the 2014 Farm Bill.

USDA tweaks regulations for farm program payments, consistent with 2014 Farm Bill (Thinkstock/TJ McCarthy)

"The federal farm safety-net programs are designed to protect against unanticipated changes in the marketplace for those who actively share in the risk of that farming operation," said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. "To ensure that help goes to those who genuinely need it, such as America's farm families, the Farm Bill authorized USDA to close a loophole and limit payments from those not involved on a daily basis in nonfamily farm management."

Since 1987, the "actively engaged" definition resulted in some general partnerships and joint ventures adding managers to the farming operation, qualifying for more payments, that did not substantially contribute to management.

The rule applies to operations seeking more than one farm manager, and requires measureable, documented hours and key management activities each year. Some operations of certain sizes and complexity may be allowed up to three qualifying managers under limited conditions.

USDA said the changes apply to payments for 2016 and subsequent crop years for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs, Loan Deficiency Payments and Marketing Loan Gains realized via the Marketing Assistance Loan program.

Related: 2014 Farm Bill reopening threats remain

As required by Congress, the new rule does not apply to family farms, or change regulations related to contributions of land, capital, equipment, or labor. The changes go into effect for the 2016 crop year for most farms.

Farms that have already planted fall crops for 2016 have until the 2017 crop year to comply. For more details, producers are encouraged to consult their local Farm Service Agency office.

TAGS: USDA
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