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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today praised the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) final rule on the implementation of payment limitations and definition of “actively engaged” in farming as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. While the first cousins, nieces, and nephews provision from the 2018 Farm Bill is included in the rule, those additional family members now must provide either 25 percent of the total management hours required by the operation on an annual basis or perform at least 500 hours of management annually. 


“As a lifelong family farmer and taxpayer watchdog, I’ve fought to keep the federal treasury from getting taken advantage of by long lost relatives who don’t actually contribute to a farm. I’m glad President Trump and his administration have endorsed my longtime efforts to close loopholes that have allowed some operations to exploit federal farm payments at taxpayer expense. It’s situations like this that undermine the purpose and support for farm safety net programs that help farmers weather downturns in the market and survive natural disasters, such as the derecho that wiped out tens of millions of acres of crop acres and damaged grain bins across 57 Iowa counties. I’ll keep a close eye on USDA’s implementation of management and labor rules so that federal farm payments go to farmers who actually need it,” Grassley said.


Last year, Grassley joined Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska in sending a letter to Secretary Sonny Perdue urging him to use his existing regulatory authority to implement the Farm Bill in order to ensure that individuals receiving farm payments are actively engaged in farming.


Grassley has been a longtime advocate for farm payment limitations. A Grassley amendment to close a loophole allowing an unlimited number of so-called managers to qualify for federal subsidies was included in the last two farm bills during Senate consideration. In both of the last two farm bill negotiations, Grassley’s amendment was removed from the final bill. Before the last farm bill, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) documented that at least $259 million was paid out through the actively engaged loophole Grassley’s amendment sought to close.