NAWG Comments on USDA 'Actively Engaged' Proposed RuleFri, 29 May 2015 11:27:00 CDT
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a proposed rule on March 26 that would make changes in determining whether a farmer is “actively engaged” in a farming operation for purposes of farm program eligibility, as was required in the 2014 Farm Bill. The comment period for the USDA proposed actively-engaged rule closed on Tuesday. NAWG submitted comments in a letter seeking answers to questions that have been raised about applicability of the rule.
NAWG reiterated the importance of ensuring that, while there are certainly some bad actors who may illegally seek farm program payments, USDA continues to be cautious about imposing restrictions on eligibility so that individuals who are legitimately and actively participating in a farming operation aren’t excluded. Additionally, as the structure of farming operations varies across the country and across types of commodities produced, USDA must provide flexibility for local and state FSA officials in making eligibility determinations.
The proposed rule also included a provision seeking comment about whether the regulation should exempt family farming operations, despite specific language in the 2014 Farm Bill requiring USDA to exempt family farms. NAWG is very concerned about this request for feedback and, as such, the letter asks whether the department intends to remove this exclusion in the future.
The letter also seeks clarification about recordkeeping requirements, as well as about how various activities would be differentiated. Ultimately, the letter urges the USDA to be cautious to not restrict individuals who are necessary for the success of a farming operation from being eligible for farm programs.
All comments submitted on the rule can be viewed by clicking here, and NAWG’s letter can be viewed by clicking here.
Click here to read the proposed rule.
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