A-95546, JULY 12, 1938, 18 COMP. GEN. 30

A-95546: Jul 12, 1938

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AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT - AGRICULTURAL CONSERVATION PROGRAM - PAYMENTS TO STATE AGENCIES PAYMENT IS AUTHORIZED. IS AS FOLLOWS: THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI. THIS APPLICATION FOR PAYMENT INDICATES THAT A 77-ACRE GENERAL SOIL-DEPLETING BASE WAS ESTABLISHED FOR THE FARM OWNED BY THE APPLICANT AND THAT 77 ACRES OF LAND ON THE FARM WERE CLASSIFIED IN 1937 AS SOIL- DEPLETING. NO DIVERSION PAYMENT OR SOIL CONSERVING PAYMENT OR SUGAR BEET PAYMENT WAS EARNED WITH RESPECT TO THE FARM COVERED BY SUCH APPLICATION FOR PAYMENT. D-1 WERE CARRIED OUT ON 12.2 ACRES. READS IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS: "SOIL-BUILDING PAYMENTS WILL BE MADE TO A PERSON WHO IS AN OWNER. THE APPLICANT'S SOIL-BUILDING ALLOWANCE FOR THE FARM IN THE INSTANT CASE WAS $65 AND.

A-95546, JULY 12, 1938, 18 COMP. GEN. 30

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT - AGRICULTURAL CONSERVATION PROGRAM - PAYMENTS TO STATE AGENCIES PAYMENT IS AUTHORIZED, UNDER REGULATIONS ADMINISTRATIVELY EXPLAINED AS NOT INTENDING OTHERWISE, TO STATE AGENCIES FOR SOIL CONSERVATION OR SOIL- BUILDING PRACTICES UNDERTAKEN PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE AGRICULTURAL CONSERVATION PROGRAM AS OUTLINED IN THE SOIL CONSERVATION ACT, AS AMENDED.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, JULY 12, 1938:

YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 3, 1938, IS AS FOLLOWS:

THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, DAIRY HUSBANDRY DEPARTMENT, THROUGH A. C. ROGSDALE, ITS CHAIRMAN, HAS EXECUTED APPLICATION FOR PAYMENT NO. 44 010- 1507, PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE 1937 AGRICULTURAL CONSERVATION PROGRAM. THIS APPLICATION FOR PAYMENT INDICATES THAT A 77-ACRE GENERAL SOIL-DEPLETING BASE WAS ESTABLISHED FOR THE FARM OWNED BY THE APPLICANT AND THAT 77 ACRES OF LAND ON THE FARM WERE CLASSIFIED IN 1937 AS SOIL- DEPLETING. CONSEQUENTLY, NO DIVERSION PAYMENT OR SOIL CONSERVING PAYMENT OR SUGAR BEET PAYMENT WAS EARNED WITH RESPECT TO THE FARM COVERED BY SUCH APPLICATION FOR PAYMENT. HOWEVER,SOIL BUILDING PRACTICES A-2, A-3, A-4, AND D-1 WERE CARRIED OUT ON 12.2 ACRES, 46.4 ACRES, 25.4 ACRES, AND 30.8 ACRES, RESPECTIVELY, WHICH, AT THE APPLICABLE RATES ESTABLISHED FOR SUCH PRACTICES, PERMITTED A SOIL BUILDING PAYMENT OF $169.06.

SECTION 13 OF PART IV OF NORTH CENTRAL REGION BULLETIN 101, AS AMENDED, READS IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

"SOIL-BUILDING PAYMENTS WILL BE MADE TO A PERSON WHO IS AN OWNER, OPERATOR, OR SHARECROPPER WITH RESPECT TO A FARM OR FARMS IN A COUNTY, NOT IN EXCESS OF SUCH PERSON'S SOIL-BUILDING ALLOWANCE FOR SUCH FARM OR FARMS, FOR THE CARRYING OUT ON SUCH FARM OR FARMS ANY OF THE APPLICABLE SOIL- BUILDING PRACTICES SET FORTH IN THIS SECTION 13.'

THE APPLICANT'S SOIL-BUILDING ALLOWANCE FOR THE FARM IN THE INSTANT CASE WAS $65 AND, THEREFORE, THE TOTAL PAYMENT COMPUTED FOR THE APPLICANT WITH RESPECT TO THE FARM, AFTER GIVING CONSIDERATION TO THE GENERAL INCREASE OF 10 PERCENT AND TO THE 10 PERCENT DEDUCTION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ORDERED BY THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE PURSUANT TO THE TERMS OF THE PROGRAM, WAS $64.35.

THE APPLICATION FOR PAYMENT WAS PROPERLY EXECUTED, AND WAS DULY APPROVED BY THE MISSOURI STATE AGRICULTURAL CONSERVATION COMMITTEE AND CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. PREAUDIT APPROVAL OF THE PAYMENT WAS REFUSED BY THE PREAUDIT UNIT OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE PASSING UPON APPLICATIONS FOR PAYMENT ORIGINATING IN THE STATE OF MISSOURI, WHICH STATED THAT IT BELIEVED THAT THE APPLICANT WAS NOT ENTITLED TO RECEIVE A SOIL-BUILDING PAYMENT FOR THE PRACTICES CARRIED OUT ON THE FARM, IN VIEW OF THAT PART OF THE PROVISIONS OF SAID SECTION 13, WHICH READS AS FOLLOWS:

"A SOIL-BUILDING PAYMENT FOR ANY PRACTICE HEREINAFTER SET FORTH WILL NOT BE MADE WITH RESPECT TO ANY ACREAGE ON THE FARM FOR WHICH ALL OR ANY PORTION OF THE LABOR, SEED, OR MATERIALS USED FOR ANY PRACTICE IS FURNISHED FREE OR PAID FOR BY ANY STATE OR FEDERAL AGENCY * * *.'

THE TERM "PERSON" AS USED IN SAID BULLETIN IS DEFINED IN PART I THEREOF AS FOLLOWS:

"PERSON MEANS AN INDIVIDUAL, FIRM, PARTNERSHIP, ASSOCIATION, CORPORATION, ESTATE, OR TRUST. THE TERM PERSON SHALL ALSO INCLUDE, WHEREVER APPLICABLE, A STATE, A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF A STATE, OR ANY AGENCY THEREOF, AND ANY GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY THAT MAY BE DESIGNATED BY THE RETARY.'

THE DEPARTMENT'S VIEW IS THAT THE BULLETIN PERMITS THE MAKING OF PAYMENTS TO STATE AGENCIES FOR CARRYING OUT ANY OF THE PRESCRIBED SOIL BUILDING PRACTICES UNLESS THE EXPENSE OF CARRYING OUT THE PRACTICE WAS BORNE BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OR A GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY OF ANOTHER STATE. THE EXCERPT QUOTED ABOVE IS A PROVISION CONTAINED IN ALL REGIONAL BULLETINS COVERING THE 1937 AGRICULTURAL CONSERVATION PROGRAM. THE PROVISION IS NOT NEW. A CORRESPONDING PROVISION DENYING PAYMENT IN WHOLE OR IN PART IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES HAS BEEN IN EACH REGIONAL BULLETIN ISSUED SINCE THE INAUGURATION OF THE AGRICULTURAL CONSERVATION PROGRAMS, AND PAYMENTS HAVE BEEN MADE THEREUNDER TO STATE AGENCIES UNDER THE STATE OF FACTS APPLICABLE IN THE INSTANT CASE. THE RESTRICTIVE CLAUSE CONTAINED IN SECTION 13 OF NORTH CENTRAL REGIONAL BULLETIN 101, AND OTHER BULLETINS, HAS HERETOFORE BEEN UNIFORMLY INTERPRETED TO APPLY ONLY IN CASES WHERE A PORTION OR ALL OF THE LABOR, SEED, OR MATERIAL USED IN A SOIL-BUILDING PRACTICE WAS FURNISHED BY A FEDERAL AGENCY, OR AN AGENCY OF ANOTHER STATE. IT IS REASONED THAT IF A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OR OTHER AGENCY OF A STATE FURNISHES ITS OWN LABOR, SEED, OR MATERIAL, IT SHOULD BE TREATED THE SAME AS ANY OTHER AGRICULTURAL PRODUCER FURNISHING HIS OWN LABOR, SEED, OR MATERIAL, AND NOT BE EXCLUDED FROM RECEIVING BENEFIT PAYMENTS BECAUSE OF A LITERAL INTERPRETATION OF THE BULLETIN. THE INTERPRETATION PLACED BY THE PREAUDITORS IN THIS CASE UPON THIS PROVISION WOULD NULLIFY, IN PART, THE DEFINITION OF THE TERM "PERSON" CONTAINED IN SAID BULLETIN.

THE REASON FOR MAKING PAYMENTS FOR CARRYING OUT SOIL-BUILDING PRACTICES IS TO ENCOURAGE FARMERS TO IMPROVE THE FERTILITY OF THE SOIL, AND TO PREVENT WIND AND WATER EROSION AND THEREBY TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE EFFECTUATION OF THE DECLARED PURPOSES OF THE SOIL CONSERVATION AND DOMESTIC ALLOTMENT ACT, AS AMENDED. THE SOIL-BUILDING PAYMENT PROVIDED FOR CARRYING OUT A PRACTICE IS NOT DESIGNED TO COVER THE ENTIRE EXPENSE INCURRED IN CARRYING OUT SUCH PRACTICE, BUT IS OFFERED IN AN AMOUNT WHICH WILL ENCOURAGE FARMERS TO ADOPT SUCH PRACTICES. IN SOME CASES PRODUCERS ARE INDUCED TO CARRY OUT SOIL-BUILDING PRACTICES BY BEING FURNISHED FREE OF CHARGE SEED OR OTHER MATERIAL, OR LABOR WITH WHICH TO CARRY OUT SUCH PRACTICES. IN CASES WHERE THE AID FURNISHED TO COOPERATORS BY A STATE OR FEDERAL AGENCY ACCOUNTS FOR THE EXPENSE OF THE PRACTICE, THE MAKING OF A SOIL-BUILDING PAYMENT FOR CARRYING OUT THE PRACTICE WITH RESPECT TO WHICH SUCH AID WAS FURNISHED WOULD AMOUNT TO THE ISSUANCE OF A PAYMENT TO A PERSON WHO HAD NOT IN FACT EARNED IT. ACCORDINGLY, IT HAS BEEN CONSIDERED ADVISABLE TO LIMIT SOIL-BUILDING PAYMENTS TO PRACTICES THE EXPENSE OF WHICH WAS BORNE BY THE COOPERATOR IN WHOLE, OR AT LEAST IN PART.

IN THE CASE OF THE APPLICATION FOR PAYMENT EXECUTED BY THE DAIRY HUSBANDRY DEPARTMENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, THE PROBLEM OF INEQUITABLE PAYMENTS IS NOT INVOLVED, SINCE THE LABOR, SEED, OR MATERIAL USED IN THE CARRYING OUT OF THE SOIL-BUILDING PRACTICES LISTED IN THE APPLICATION FOR PAYMENT WAS NOT PAID FOR BY ANY FEDERAL AGENCY OR ANY AGENCY OF ANY OTHER STATE. IT IS BELIEVED THAT, SINCE THE APPLICANT IS ENTITLED TO SUBMIT AN APPLICATION FOR PAYMENT, THE APPLICANT IS LIKEWISE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE THE SOIL-BUILDING PAYMENT, IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE BULLETIN EXPRESSLY PROVIDES THAT SOIL BUILDING PAYMENTS WILL BE MADE TO PERSONS WHO ARE OWNERS OR OPERATORS, AND THE APPLICANT COMES WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE TERM "PERSON," AS DEFINED IN THE APPLICABLE BULLETIN.

YOUR EARLY CONSIDERATION OF THIS CASE WILL BE APPRECIATED.

IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY EXPLANATION, THE PROVISION OF SECTION 13 OF THE REGULATIONS AND THE DEFINITION OF "PERSON" IN THE SAME REGULATIONS ARE APPARENTLY IN CONFLICT WHEN APPLIED TO PAYMENTS TO A STATE AGENCY. YOUR EXPLANATION OF THE INTENTION BY THE PROVISION REGARDING LABOR, SEED, MATERIALS, ETC., "PAID FOR BY ANY STATE OR FEDERAL AGENCY" REMOVES SUCH SEEMING CONFLICT, WHICH LEAVES FOR DETERMINATION WHETHER THERE IS ANY PROVISION IN THE SOIL CONSERVATION ACT, AS AMENDED, WHICH WOULD PROHIBIT PAYMENTS TO A STATE AGENCY. THE SOIL CONSERVATION PROGRAM AS OUTLINED IN THE STATUTES, WHILE PROVIDING INCIDENTAL BENEFITS TO INDIVIDUAL FARMERS, HAS AS ITS PRIMARY OBJECT THE ADVANCEMENT OF AGRICULTURE AS A WHOLE; FOR INSTANCE, THE PREVENTION OF SOIL EROSION ON A PARTICULAR FARM WILL BENEFIT NOT ONLY THAT FARM BUT ADJOINING FARMS AS WELL. ACCORDINGLY, PAYMENT TO A STATE AGENCY FOR SOIL CONSERVATION OR SOIL-BUILDING PRACTICES IS NOT INCONSISTENT WITH THE GENERAL INTENTION OF THE STATUTE AND I FIND NOTHING IN THE SOIL CONSERVATION ACT AS AMENDED WHICH WOULD PROHIBIT SUCH PAYMENTS EITHER SPECIFICALLY OR BY IMPLICATION.

ACCORDINGLY, IF THE VOUCHERS IN QUESTION ARE RESUBMITTED WITH A REFERENCE THEREON TO THIS DECISION THEY WILL RECEIVE FURTHER CONSIDERATION IN LINE WITH THE FOREGOING.