Monday, July 22, 2013

The One in Four Rule

One of my first jobs after I switched from Directives to Production Adjustment was a followup to an audit of the disaster program ASCS was running.  The auditor, probably GAO but possibly OIG, faulted us for the number of farmers who got disaster payments in more than one year out of five.  Some got payments in two years, some in three.  So we had to run a computer program to identify these farmers and have the counties re-review the justifications for the payments and question the yield.

I thought of that when I saw this article about the one in four rule for crop insurance.  The difference is that this rule requires farmers to plant the land in at least one out of four rules, presumably being eligible for prevented planting indemnities the other three.  To someone from NY this rule seems ridiculous--why bother if you can only get a crop one out of four years?  That's the quick, knee-jerk reaction.  Slower consideration, remembering the prairie pot-hole area and the dryness of the area in question (i.e. Dakotas, MN, etc.) is perhaps a tad more favorable to RMA.  But the bottomline is once again a lesson in how Congress works.  No matter that GAO has done studies claiming crop insurance encourages the planting of marginal acreage--the ND congressional delegation is raising a fuss.  ("delegation" sounds more impressive than the "three members of Congress from ND".)  This is the way Congress works, and one example of why government programs fall short of a goo-goo's (good government types) dream.

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