Agricultural producers receive about $5 billion annually in farm program payments for which being actively engaged in farming is required by the Farm Program Payments Integrity Act. GAO was asked to review FSA’s processes for implementing actively engaged in farming regulations to determine payment eligibility.
Compliance reviews conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to determine if farming operation members (individuals and entities) meet the payment requirements for being actively engaged in farming are hindered by broad and subjective requirements and difficulty in verifying individuals’ evidence of claimed contributions.
To be actively engaged in farming, an individual is to make significant contributions to that operation in personal labor or active personal management (or both). However, the definition of active personal management in FSA regulations is broad and can be satisfied by an individual performing at least one of eight services representing categories such as supervision of activities necessary in the farming operation. Also, FSA regulations allow farming operation members to make contributions of management without visiting the operation, enabling individuals who live significant distances from an operation to claim such contributions.