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USDA Releases 'Actively Engaged' Final Rule
USAgNet - 01/08/2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it was finalizing a rule to alter the definition of 'actively engaged' for purposes of determining farm program eligibility. The final rule follows up on a proposed rule issued by the department last March and closely follows the initial proposal.

The final rule exempts family farmers and is to apply to general partnerships and joint ventures where an individual is attempting to qualify more than one farm manager. The rule would limit such operations to up to three individuals qualifying as farm managers, given certain conditions, and requiring such individuals to make a “significant contribution” of active personal management or a significant contribution of the combination of active personal labor and active personal management. The text of the rule includes additional details describing what constitutes a significant contribution, which is generally described in terms of time commitment.

In terms of the economic impact of the rule, USDA estimates that around 3,200 joint operations could lose eligibility for around $106 million in total ARC, PLC and marketing loan program benefits in 2016 through 2018. Additionally, the rule will be applicable for the 2016 crop year for producers who only have spring-planted crops and effective for the 2017 crop year for producers who have both spring- and fall-planted crops.

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