USDA overpaid farmers $20.3M

Published on: Sep 9, 2013

In a recent audit, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a total of 239 high-dollar overpayments, totaling approximately $20.3 million due to improved reporting oversight and processes.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviews the USDA's quarterly high-dollar overpayment reports and made recommendations, as necessary, to agencies’ plans to recover and prevent high-dollar overpayments.

The biggest overpayment was $14.65 million in federal premium subsidies paid to farmers on crop insurance. The department also overpaid by $2.79 million farm security and rural investment assistance, and $1.19 million in farm disaster payments. 

This year's $20.3 million is an increase from last year's reported 143 high-dollar overpayments, totaling approximately $11.7 million. This represents an increase of 67% over the number of overpayments reported the previous year.

The OIG noted that it determined that the quarterly reports included errors and were published up to 102 days after the due date. This occurred because, although agency chief financial officers certified that information was accurate and met applicable criteria, component agencies’ submissions required substantive review by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer to ensure USDA followed the high-dollar reporting guidance appropriately and that only payments that were supposed to be reported were included.