November 18, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Eric Deeble, Policy Director
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
USDA Reversal on Payment Limits Sells Out Farmers
Trump Administration’s Reversal on Commodity Subsidy Payment Limits Will Promote Abuse of the System and Lead to Greater Consolidation
Washington, DC, November 18th, 2020 – Today, the Trump Administration announced its intention to reverse a key reform element of the Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility Final Rule as issued in August by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This rule was necessary to enact provisions that Congress debated and passed as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.
“The Trump Administration’s final rule issued just three short months ago correctly interpreted Congress’ intent that farm subsidies be limited to people who derive their livelihoods from, and are actively engaged in farming” said Eric Deeble, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s Policy Director. “The new rule, posted today, is a complete reversal and repudiation of the final rule from August. The original final rule clearly reflected the bipartisan consensus to close one of the biggest loopholes in the payment limitation of farm subsidies. The Administration’s contention that the final rule – which limits farm payments to family members that really work on a farm, rather than those that only do so on paper – was done in error by Congress and USDA is a lie. Issuing this ‘correction’ to a final rule flouts Congressional intent, invites legal challenge, and provides a windfall for the biggest, most complex farming operations while ignoring real family farmers who need the assistance.”
The 2018 Farm Bill expanded the types of family members who were eligible to receive payments to include first cousins, nieces, and nephews, in addition to children, grandparents, and siblings, while simultaneously ensuring that only those family members who were actively engaged in the farm business would be eligible for farm program payments. To be eligible for a payment under the August final rule, a recipient must provide either 25% of a farm’s total management hours, or perform at least 500 hours of management annually, on a “regular, continuous and substantial” basis.
“A 180 degree about-face on an already final rule reeks of an election campaign season payoff,” said Deeble. “The new rule will use taxpayer money to foster farm consolidation, putting family farmers and beginning farmers at a severe disadvantage. We trust that the incoming Biden Administration will revoke this parting gift and put the teeth back in the farm bill’s payment limit to ensure fairness and stop subsidizing economic concentration.”
About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Learn more: https://sustainableagriculture.net/