GAO releases report on farm subsidy payments
For the 2015 crop year — the most recent year for which data were available — the Agriculture Department made about $2.7 billion in payments to entities for which being actively engaged in farming was a requirement, the Government Accountability Office has found in a report requested by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
GAO did not question the reporting by farmers and other entities of their eligibility for subsidies, and Grassley told reporters Tuesday in a call that the definition of “actively engaged” in farming is one of the “glaring loopholes in the law” that should be addressed in the farm bill.
GAO said the $2.7 billion in payments was distributed to 95,417 entities such as corporations, general partnerships, joint ventures and limited liability companies.
USDA distributed an average of $884,495 in payments to the 50 farming operations receiving the highest payments for 2015, GAO said.
General partnership members’ payments were predominantly based on members’ claimed contributions of combined management and labor (74.6 percent) and management (23.1 percent), while labor was 2.3 percent.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said the farm bill that failed to pass the House last week would have made the situation “even worse” by:
Granting the same exemption to several different types of corporations.
Allowing separate payment limits for cousins, nieces and nephews of a farmer, thereby allowing for larger payments without the need for using the exemptions.
Arbitrarily removing any limitation on certain types of payments and benefits that accrue to producers through the commodity marketing loan programs.