Rep. Jerry Moran, R-KS, introduced legislation to assist farmers and ranchers in resolving cases with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The bill works to help Kansas producers settle disputes with the USDA more easily and allows farmers to be treated more fairly by the agency in the final decision.
"Participating in farm programs often is a complicated process, and problems can arise even when producers act in good faith to meet all of USDA's requirements," Moran said. "Traveling across Kansas, I have heard numerous stories of producers being penalized and fined, because of clerical errors, such as one signature missed in the paperwork. Government should work for people, not against them. Making it easier to deal with the bureaucracy just makes good sense."
Each year, hundreds of Kansas farmers and ranchers appeal to the USDA on decisions about their participation in commodity and conservation programs. While equitable decisions often are granted at the state and local level, over 85% of disputes at the national level are in favor of USDA, instead of the farmer. In addition, nearly half of the regional decisions that do favor farmers are eventually reversed, at the national level.
Moran's legislation would assist producers by allowing more decisions to be made and remain at the regional level. It also would limit the ability of USDA to appeal decisions, if the producer has won twice. The legislation would assist producers by allowing more decisions to be made and remain at the regional level. It also would limit the ability of USDA to appeal decisions, if the producer has won twice. The legislation also requires better disclosure of decisions made by the USDA.
Moran is a member of the U.S. House and Senate Conference Committee on the farm bill. The committee will begin meeting to resolve differences between the individual bills passed by each chamber.
"It is my hope, with this legislation and the farm bill, we can take steps to help put USDA back on the side of the farmer," Moran concluded.