USDA Pays Farm Subsidies To Dead Farmers

The USDA likes to pay dead farmers to grow corn, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. Some of the dead farmers received in excess of $500,000 in government subsidies. Hmm! How very mysterious!

From the GAO’s report:

USDA has made farm program payments to estates more than 2 years after recipients died, without determining, as its regulations require, whether the estates were kept open to receive these payments. As a result, USDA cannot be assured that farm payments are not going to estates kept open primarily to obtain these payments. From 1999 through 2005, USDA did not conduct any of the required eligibility determinations for 73, or 40 percent, of the 181 estates GAO reviewed. Sixteen of these 73 estates had each received more than $200,000 in farm payments, and 4 had each received more than $500,000.

Gee, that sounds bad. So, how much did it cost us? $1.1 billion dollars!

For 1999 through 2005, USDA paid $1.1 billion in farm payments in the names of 172,801 deceased individuals (either as an individual recipient or as a member of an entity). Of this total, 40 percent went to those who had been dead for 3 or more years, and 19 percent to those dead for 7 or more years.

Good job, USDA! You are broken.

USDA Needs to Strengthen Management Controls to Prevent Improper Payments to Estates and Deceased Individuals (PDF) [Government Accountability Office]