On Wednesday, November 18th, USDA officials reversed a portion of the rule that was released in August that would have required family members to start meeting management time requirements to qualify for commodity program payments. USDA noted the following:
“After publication of the rule, stakeholders notified FSA of concerns regarding potential non-intended, adverse effects to farming operations comprised solely of family members. In streamlining the definitions for consistency, these revised definitions were inadvertently made applicable to farming operations solely owned by family members. This was not the intent of this rule change, and as revised, the definitions were more restrictive than they needed to be in order to provide intended consistency in the rule. Those more restrictive definitions were not intended to apply to farm operations comprised or owned solely of family members. Therefore, this document restores § 400.601 and the previous the definitions of “active personal management” and “significant contribution” in § 1400.3 that were applicable prior to publication of the final rule on August 24, 2020. The more restrictive definitions described in § 1400.601 apply only to farming operations comprised of non-family members that are subject to a limit in the number of farm managers seeking to qualify for actively engaged in farming based on a contribution of active personal management alone.”
To examine the rule notice click here.
Of course, not all in agriculture agree with this common-sense rule correction. Policy Director Eric Deeble of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition issued the statement, “A 180-degree about-face on an already final rule reeks of an election campaign season payoff. 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.” Click to read their entire statement.