The USDA announced a proposed rule to limit farm payments to non-farmers. The proposed rule limits farm payments to individuals who may be designated as farm managers but are not actively engaged in farm management.
According to the USDA the current definition of “actively engaged” for managers is broad, allowing individuals with little to no contribution to farm management decisions to receive payments. The current definition was established in 1987. The proposed rule is to close the loophole as required by the 2014 farm bill. The USDA said, “Under the proposed rule, non-family joint ventures and general partnerships must document that their managers are making significant contributions to the farming operation, defined as 500 hours of substantial management work per year, or 25% of the critical management time necessary for the success of the farming operation. Many operations will be limited to only one manager who can receive a safety-net payment. Operations that can demonstrate they are large and complex could be allowed payments for up to three managers only if they can show all three are actively and substantially engaged in farm operations. The changes specified in the rule would apply to payment eligibility 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.”
The public may provide written comments on the proposal by May 26.