The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that the USDA has not been reviewing Farm Service Agency (FSA) state compliance with rules regarding farm program eligibility. “The lack of oversight and accountability has created a welfare system for some joint-ventures and general partnerships, particularly in the South,” says Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.
The GAO report shows that 19 of the top 20 farms that received payments in 2016 and 2017 are in the South. “Farm payments should only go to those with dirt under their fingernails,” Grassley adds. “Congress must fix this broken system in the next farm bill.” Since the last GAO report in 2013, the 2020 report says USDA has made some progress in completing and reporting on reviews to determine if recipients of farm program payments meet the requirements for being actively engaged in farming. However, USDA doesn’t systematically monitor its performance of compliance reviews, which are the responsibility of FSA state offices.
The report says improving the accuracy and monitoring of tracking data would help management to better oversee state offices’ completion of assigned reviews to make sure all the members of a farming operation who receive payments are actively engaged in farming.