Super: Feds paying millions in subsidies to farmers no longer among the living

posted at 4:01 pm on July 29, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

I’m starting to get the sinking feeling that — for all of the recent ado about finally decoupling the usually omnibus farm bill into the two separate, more accessible issues of food stamps and agriculture ‘policy’ — what we’re might end up with is some kind of last-minute stopgap extension of the current farm bill, which is supposed to expire at the end of September.

Congress still has plenty to duke out on both issues; the Democrats are refusing to stand for any substantive cuts to the national food-stamp program (the enrollment for which has grown by 70 percent since 2008, by the way), and while House Republicans actually did succeed in finally decoupling the issues, they ended up cutting hardly a dang thing from what is mostly millions of dollars a year in corporate pork for agribusiness in rural states and are still trying to figure out what they want to do with food stamps. They need both their agriculture bill and a food-stamp bill to send into conference with the Senate’s version, and there aren’t that many workdays left before the September deadline with the August recess coming up.

While we wait for Congress to figure out what they want to do, however, here’s one small example of the type of fraud, waste, and abuse that our ‘agriculture policy’ makes available that is very likely to be preserved under any version of the farm bill currently likely to survive. A new federal audit found that the government is still paying out millions of dollars a year to dead farmers because the Agriculture Department neglects to do routine checks required to make sure it is paying benefits to the right people. Perfect, via the Washington Times:

The Government Accountability Office said that from 2008 to 2012 one agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, made $10.6 million payments on behalf of more than 1,100 people who’d been dead at least a year. Another branch, the Risk Management Agency, paid out $22 million to more than 3,400 policyholders who’d been dead at least two years.

Some of the payments may have been legal because they were for work done before the farmers died, but GAO said the problem is the two agencies don’t perform the routine checks — such as looking at the Social Security lists — to see.

“Until and unless NRCS and RMA develop and implement procedures to have their payment or subsidy data records matched against SSA’s complete death master file, either through coordination with FSA or on their own, these agencies cannot know if they are providing payments to, or subsidies on behalf of, deceased individuals; how often they are providing such payments or subsidies; or in what amounts,” the investigators wrote.

The good news, however, is that the federal government has managed to improve upon their record between 1999 and 2005, during which time a previous GAO audit found that they paid over a billion dollars out to more than 170,000 people — progress!


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

It’s okay. Sleazy Eric Holder made sure they all voted for Obama last fall.

At least twice.

viking01 on July 29, 2013 at 4:06 PM

They’re getting paid to be worm food.

digitsiam on July 29, 2013 at 4:11 PM

Just as good as food stamp money being used to buy and ship food from NYC to South America…

PatriotRider on July 29, 2013 at 4:23 PM

Well, just what in the heck do people expect from a bloated, huge, unweildy, unchecked and monstrous government? Wow, color me shocked.

NJ Red on July 29, 2013 at 4:24 PM

You would think the NSA will all its spying abilities would be able to purview the obituaries.

trs on July 29, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Payments to dead farmers? Another example of what a good lobby can do for you….

MTF on July 29, 2013 at 4:31 PM

My husband makes thousands from home the grave, and you can too……

portlandon on July 29, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Here’s a compromise: no food stamp bill and no farm bill

EddieC on July 29, 2013 at 4:36 PM

While the politicians are bad, the bureaucrats are worse.

All bureaucracies want to grow. The only way bureaucrats can increase their “market share” is get more “customers”. Dead or alive, legal or illegal, it really doesn’t matter since the bureaucratic machine exists to ship money and process them.

Politicians are dependent on bureaucrats for information.

The simple minded think that the bureaucrats will tell the truth when asked hard questions.

The only solution is the elimination of bureaucracy, as much as is possible.

CrazyGene on July 29, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Feds paying millions in subsidies to farmers no longer among the living

And that’s not even counting Pigford, right?

petefrt on July 29, 2013 at 4:51 PM

Payments to dead farmers? Another example of what a good lobby can do for you….

MTF on July 29, 2013 at 4:31 PM

Egad! The fed stops those payments, and certain federal bureaucracies may lose funding, hundred, nay, thousands of federal jobs may be impacted….maybe lost.

The poor souls who rely on those jobs to support their families may be forced out on the streets!

Oh the humanity!

It just isn’t fair…..

Say, can’t we just say those farmers are still alive and forget the whole thing?

hawkeye54 on July 29, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Here’s a compromise: no food stamp bill and no farm bill

EddieC on July 29, 2013 at 4:36 PM

Works for me.

hawkeye54 on July 29, 2013 at 4:54 PM

My husband makes thousands from home the grave, and you can too……

portlandon on July 29, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Had to laugh!

While the politicians are bad, the bureaucrats are worse.

All bureaucracies want to grow. The only way bureaucrats can increase their “market share” is get more “customers”. Dead or alive, legal or illegal, it really doesn’t matter since the bureaucratic machine exists to ship money and process them.

Politicians are dependent on bureaucrats for information.

The simple minded think that the bureaucrats will tell the truth when asked hard questions. (well, that clearly hasn’t worked)

The only solution is the elimination of bureaucracy, as much as is possible. (not much is possible; if there is a bureau, there have to be ‘crats running it — they are office-workers for the most part, just doing what comes naturally when there is no accountability or consequences for fraud and loss)

CrazyGene on July 29, 2013 at 4:37 PM

GAO and the Department IGs try, but they are hacking at the kudzu.
I would suppose that most of the problems stem from never having instituted sufficient accountability-procedures in the first place, or from having them ignored (as there seem to be no consequences for doing so).
But we always come back to this:

All bureaucracies want to grow. The only way bureaucrats can increase their “market share” is get more “customers”. Dead or alive, legal or illegal, it really doesn’t matter

This is one area where treating the government more like a business would help, as in putting some MBAs in charge of department operations — with some kind of incentive for restoring sanity, or just basic business competence of the kind that keeps them from going broke.

The BIG problem is that the politicians and the bureaucrats are ALL working with someone else’s money, and none of them ever lose out if there is fraud or mis-management.

And they want to handle all of the health-care and insurance for the country.

AesopFan on July 29, 2013 at 5:13 PM

When you pay farmers not to grow crops this is bound to happen.

“Yep, Elmer, there,” points out tombstones to bureaucrat,”he ain’t gonna ever grow a crop again. Jethro, neither. Just keep sending them checks.”

jdpaz on July 29, 2013 at 5:24 PM

All bureaucracies want to grow. The only way bureaucrats can increase their “market share” is get more “customers”. Dead or alive, legal or illegal, it really doesn’t matter

If we set fixed budgets for departments, instead of constantly increasing their funding (even in “flat” years), we’d see more efficient government.

But politicians think the only way they can win elections is to pass out huge stacks of ca$h, so that change will never happen.

hawksruleva on July 29, 2013 at 5:41 PM

but GAO said the problem is the two agencies don’t perform the routine checks — such as looking at the Social Security lists — to see.

if we had an opposition party they might actually make an issue of the awful abuse of the taxpayer. The SSA can’t even tell if two people are claiming the same SSN on their w-2.

imagine credit card companies doing that…strong centralized government funnels in tons of money, but can never quite get their systems right to handle it.

Cozy scheme

r keller on July 29, 2013 at 6:15 PM

“What difference does it maeke” — Hillary

Schadenfreude on July 29, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Can someone please get Bain Capital in to fix this mess?

Fleuries on July 29, 2013 at 7:44 PM

…NSA!

KOOLAID2 on July 29, 2013 at 9:35 PM

It’s depressing that dead people earn more than I do, maybe it’s their ability to vote more times than I can.

aceinstall on July 30, 2013 at 10:56 AM