Farm Service Agency Administrator Jonathan Coppess says FSA has published a final rule intended to strengthen payment integrity and eliminate waste and abuse. At issue in the past has been the dispersal of payments to agricultural producers after an individual's death. A 2007 GAO audit found that the vast majority of farm payments were made properly, but highlighted areas for improvement. Since then, the Farm Service Agency has worked to implement additional safeguards.
Coppess says with this final rule, they are codifying improvements that have allowed the FSA to reduce the error rate in the percentage of payments from 2% to under 0.1%. USDA is legally obligated to pay the estates of producers who die and qualify for program payments because heirs have legal rights to receive those payments earned during a producer's lifetime.
The safeguards codified in this final rule include: Each quarter USDA matches individuals who receive FSA program payments with data provided by the Social Security Administration to determine if any program recipient is deceased. Deceased individual listings are investigated through local FSA county offices. And FSA would only pay a farmer who died before payment was received.