A new partnership between the Agriculture Department and Internal Revenue Service to reduce fraud by verifying which farmers are eligible for farm program payments may make farmers’ lives easier, according to Tara Smith, American Farm Bureau Federation farm policy specialist.
Smith said the new process addresses concerns about privacy and should make that information safer because it bypasses local Farm Service Agency offices.
“One of our concerns has always been that farmers are required to bring business documentation or tax documentation to a local FSA office, and while we admire the work that our local FSA offices do, that is very sensitive information and a lot of times the security that needs to be in place for that kind of information just really isn’t there. They’ve done this in a way that the local or county FSA office is never going to touch any tax documentation,” Smith said in an AFBF Newsline interview.
“Farmers have to fill out a form that goes directly to the IRS and even if they get red-flagged it goes to the state FSA Committee and not through the local FSA office at all. Those are huge improvements over the current system,” Smith said.
Under the old system, anyone could be audited to see if they qualify for farm payments, but the new process will focus those audits on those more likely to be ineligible, which Smith said is a better use of USDA resources.