Sen. Stabenow: “And finally, Mr. Chairman, one of the things I’m concerned about is that we’re hearing that the USDA feels constrained when defining actively engaged on the farm. I know this is a very challenging issue going forward. But I just want to clarify that the lead negotiators, those of us in the House and the Senate, understood the existing authority and discretion of the department, and want to work with you on this.
“When we look at the fact that CBO is estimating that the PLC and marketing loan programs could pay out as much as 16 billion more than we anticipated, it’s very important we have accountability, and [those go] actually to those who are farming. And so it is very important.
“I would just urge you that in our bill, nothing in the farm bill is preventing the USDA from exercising existing authorities or discretion to make the definition as clear and strong as possible. And I think for the effectiveness and the integrity of the programs it’s really important that the department move forward on this, and look forward to working with you on that.”
Sec. Vilsack: “The way in which the farm bill was crafted strongly suggests that whatever we do does not specifically apply directly to family farming operations. Also, with reference to family farm corporations, the limitation of one management exemption applies. So what we are focusing on are the general partnerships and limited partnerships that have often been the source of concerns.
“And that is where our jurisdiction, I think, is relative to actively engaged, and that’s what we’re focused on. And we will definitely come up with hopefully a more concrete and more specific definition so that folks understand precisely what applies and what doesn’t apply. But I think it is important to point out that it’s primarily focused on partnerships, limited and general partnerships.
Monday, March 02, 2015
Another chapter in the saga of "actively engaged"--from Farm Policy's report on the Senate Ag hearings: