USDA's Farm Service Agency has decided to eliminate the separate document growers currently are required to send to the Internal Revenue Service granting the agency permission to share Adjusted Gross Income information with USDA.
FSA Administrator Bruce Nelson announced the change during a House Agriculture Subcommittee review of the 2008 Farm Bill safety net provisions.
"After Oct. 1 we are going to eliminate that form that producers have had to send in to the Internal Revenue Service and we're going to do that authorization as a part of their other sign up papers," Nelson said. "We think that will be a lot better for the producers and ultimately a lot easier on our employees out there too, who sometimes, you know, have had to deal with producers coming in saying I don't know why the IRS didn't accept this."
FSA witnesses did not respond directly to a question by Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., asking how many growers have been flagged by the IRS review of AGI compliance. Several questions about FSA's ability to deliver programs prompted Nelson to reveal another change FSA has in mind.
"Our planning is also considering the potential for a further offering of voluntary early retirements within the agency," Nelson said. "The department has authorized those for this fiscal year for all agencies including the Farm Service Agency, and we did have a number of our employees take us up on that offer when it was put out in the last month. And I believe this fact that a lot of folks in our county offices signed up for the early outs is a sign of the stress out there in the county offices due to among other things the budget situation we are facing in the future."
Nelson side-stepped numerous questions about which safety net programs the Obama USDA considered to be a top priority, but he did say his agency has analysis which might guide Congressional Farm Bill writers in future deliberations.