A new audit is raising more questions on the benefits of farm safety net programs after it revealed that the USDA paid $36.6 million in subsidies to farmers after they had died. In particular, it looked at crop insurance, disaster assistance and conservation program payments.
The audit from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that the USDA “needs to do more to prevent improper payments to decease individuals.” Read the report here.
The Los Angeles Times reports that while the report represents a fraction of the $10 billion paid in federal subsidies, it comes at a sensitive time as Congress continues to debate the farm bill.
The USDA responded to the GAO’s report, saying in a letter it "generally agrees with the report's findings" and had recently received approval to use the Social Security Administration's death records. See more from the Los Angeles Times here.
A similar GAO report in 2007 sparked an outcry after uncovering $1.1 billion in subsidies to dead farmers, and though frequently cited by critics as examples of wasteful spending, a follow-up report in 2010 found no fraud and determined nearly all the subsidies paid on behalf of dead farmers in recent years were proper. Read, “Review: Most payments to dead farmers are proper.”