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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Farmers have to give up their privacy. This is "voluntary" of course

My wife and I share ownership of some farms with my parents. We don't work the farms ourselves. Instead we have a rental agreement with a farmer. He does the work and gets most of the gross. Except for some special circumstances he pays the expenses out of his part of the gross. We get the rest and pay the taxes. We don't make a huge amount of money from this but every little bit helps. The farms are also a great place to hunt and just get away for a little while. We are considered "producers" and of course that income is reported on our taxes.

One fact of life with farming is government involvement. Everything from the CRP to the boll weevil program, to crop insurance, they all have the government involved. I'm not a big fan of government involvement in anything but I realize that there would be almost no farming in this nation today if it weren't for the government transferring wealth to make it profitable enough.For us, this is one of the few ways we get any of our taxes back.

The government transfers and programs really impact small farming operations. The farmer that works our land farms somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 acres and has 2 or 3 hired hands to help him. If the crops make he probably grosses several hundred thousand dollars per year before expenses and probably keeps 10% to 20% of that for himself if he's lucky. That is not what I'd call a large corporate farm setup. Without farm insurance it would be difficult to find anyone to farm our land. Large farm operations are not supposed to be in those programs. There may be other programs intended for large operations. I don't know because we are not big enough to participate.

I'll leave the debate over farm programs for some other time.

This is just a little background before you see part of the newsletter we received from the Farm Service Agency of the US Department of Agriculture. Here is a scan of the relevant portion of that letter:

I went and looked at the form CCC-927. Here is a little part of it that sparked my interest:

The text above is small but if you click on the text you'll see a larger version. It is at the top of the form. The text says:

The information collected on this form may be disclosed to other Federal, State, Local government agencies, Tribal agencies, and nongovernmental entities that have been authorized access to the information by statute or regulation and/or as described in applicable Routine Uses identified in the System of Records Notice for USDA/FSA-2, Farm Records File (Automated). Providing the requested information is voluntary. However, failure to furnish the requested information will result in a determination of ineligibility for program benefits.
I haven't tracked down all the "Federal, State, Local government agencies, Tribal agencies, and nongovernmental entities" that are mentioned. I probably don't want to know.

This is of course intended to stop people that own large farming operations from sneaking into farm programs intended for small farms.

As usuall, it is the law abiding little guy that pays the price. This is much like all the crazy personal disarmament laws in this nation that are supposed to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. Everyone with a brain knows that creeps will always have weapons and that laws only apply to the law abiding.

So now we have to "voluntarily" provide all kinds of information to a list of government agencies so long that they can't even print it on the form.

I have no doubt that people who own farming operations that make profits in the millions will still find ways to get into the system and make more money so this will not do what it was supposedly intended to do.

I'll bet that my personal information and tax returns will be more widely distributed than if we were on welfare.

That brings up another point: you can still get welfare if you've been convicted of growing illegal substances. From the back of the newsletter:

Any person who is convicted under Federal or State law of a controlled substance violation could be ineligible for USDA benefits or payments. Violations include planting, growing, cultivating, harvesting, producing, or storing a prohibited plant or substance. Prohibited plants include marijuana, opium, poppies and other drug producing plants.

I just thought everyone would like to see their government at work.


Paladin said...

What a pain...

My Dad worked for the USDA for most of his adult life before retiring several years ago. He had experience dealing with farm regulations, subsidies, and the like due to farm land we owned in another state and leased to a farmer. Sooooo much BS to deal with.

What really bothers me, though, is the trend toward the Government pushing microchiping and detailed record keeping not only for large scale producers, but also for the Mom & Pop operations where they mainly just keep animals for themselves with a few extras to sell to cover feed costs.

It was going to be a MAJOR cluster F for small scale folks and homesteader types. Only recently has the Government backed off its hardcore stance on implementation a little bit. I still worry about it though, since they've made their ultimate goal known and the "new" framework would be a foot in the door in that regard.

If you're not familiar with the program, google "National Animal Identification System" and check it out.

Ken said...

...yep,you begin to track all the 'Agencies',the list,and trail,will be long and distinguished...

..."voluntarily 'Mandatory'"

Bitmap said...


I've been watching the NAIS with dread. It seems to be aimed at making it more difficult to raise your own livestock and fowl. The big producers get a break on that because they only have to register once for their entire herd while the little guys would have to register each individual animal.


I think most agencies are infamous rather than distinguished.


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