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Feds admit $2.8 billion in improper farm payments

by 5m Editor
17 November 2006, at 1:59pm

US - The Agriculture Department on Wednesday acknowledged making improper payments to farmers worth more than $2.8 billion last year.

Officials explained that most of the payments involved missing or incomplete paperwork. "We take this very seriously," said Chuck Christopherson, the department's chief financial officer. "We know this is something that we can address and that we can fix."

Federal law requires agencies to track erroneous payments, such as checks sent to farmers who were not eligible for a particular program, or payments for the wrong amount of money. The amount of improper payments in fiscal 2006 was about 11 percent of farm program payments, the department said. The fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

Officials said nearly all of that, 10 percent, was because of missing or incomplete paperwork. As of last year, officials included in their tracking payments for which paperwork was missing or incomplete, such as a form that went unsigned.

"While I certainly take seriously our jobs to ensure that every T is crossed and every I is dotted, I believe it's noteworthy to distinguish between the two types of errors here," said Teresa Lasseter, administrator of the Farm Service Agency, which runs most farm programs.

Source: AgriNews

5m Editor