WASHINGTON | The U.S. Department of Agriculture distributed $1.1 billion over seven years to the estates or companies of deceased farmers, according to a government report.
The Government Accountability Office also found — in a selection of 181 cases from 1999 to 2005 — that the agency routinely failed to conduct reviews required to ensure that the payments were properly made.
The report cited a 1,900-acre soybean and corn farm in Illinois that collected $400,000 on behalf of an owner who lived in Florida before his death in 1995. The company did not notify the government of the death but certified each year that the dead shareholder, who owned 40 percent of the company, was “actively engaged” in managing the farm.
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