Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dorgan and Grassley Letter to Johanns - Where is the Farm Payment Database?

The Honorable Michael Johanns
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Johanns:

As you know, Section 1614 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 requires USDA to “establish procedures to track benefits provided, directly or indirectly, to individuals or entities under titles I and II of the 2002 Farm Bill.” We are becoming increasingly troubled at the continuing delay in creating the Section 1614 farm program payment database.

We wrote to you in November 2005 on this subject and received a response from then-Under Secretary J.B. Penn on January 3, 2006 indicating that the database required by the 2002 Farm Bill was completed. In subsequent discussions, however, it became clear that the project was not in fact complete, but still in progress.

In response to a question submitted to Undersecretary Penn by Senator Dorgan at a hearing of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee in March, Undersecretary Penn responded that, “The database required by Section 1614 of the 2002 Farm Bill will be made available by the Farm Service Agency…in August 2006.” We are now well past August, and the database is still, evidently, not completed. Although there are undoubtedly technical complexities in finishing this database, we are troubled at the delay and the lack of explanation as to its cause.

We appreciate the effort you have put into seeing that the language of Section 1614 is complied with. In order for Congress to make sound policy decisions about the farm payments, access to the best available information is crucial. We urge you to finish work on the database immediately, and we would appreciate an explanation of any outstanding issues that have yet to be resolved.


Senator Byron Dorgan
Senator Chuck Grassley

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.


  • At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Preceeding comment aside, I just wanted to let you know that I think this is an excellent blog. Thanks for your work on it.

  • At 1:20 PM, Blogger Center for Rural Affairs said…

    Thank you for your kind words, I removed the previous (spam) comment. John Crabtree

  • At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Is USDA trying to keep this information secret until after the election, or are they just trying to keep it a secret for as long as possible (preferably for ever)?

    This really pisses me off!


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