B-136899, JUL. 28, 1958

B-136899: Jul 28, 1958

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE: WE HAVE BEEN REQUESTED TO RENDER AN OPINION CONCERNING THE LEGALITY OF THE SOIL BANK REGULATIONS AND CONTRACTUAL PROVISIONS. PROHIBIT PAYMENTS TO FARMERS FOR ACREAGE PLACED IN THE ACREAGE RESERVE UNLESS HE PLOWS UP ADDITIONAL ACREAGE WHICH IS IN EXCESS OF HIS "SOIL BANK BASE" BUT WITHIN THE ACREAGE ALLOTMENT REMAINING TO HIM. THE EXAMPLE PRESENTED IS A SMALL COTTON FARMER IN MISSISSIPPI WITH A COTTON ACREAGE ALLOTMENT OF 4 ACRES AND A SOIL BANK BASE OF 2 ACRES FOR 1958. HE WILL NOT RECEIVE PAYMENT FOR THE 2 ACRES PLACED IN THE ACREAGE RESERVE UNLESS HE PLOWS UP THE 1.6 ACRES HE HAS PLANTED. IT HAS BEEN CONTENDED THAT THIS REQUIREMENT TO DESTROY THE CROP IS IN EXCESS OF ANY AUTHORITY GRANTED IN THE SOIL BANK ACT.

B-136899, JUL. 28, 1958

TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE:

WE HAVE BEEN REQUESTED TO RENDER AN OPINION CONCERNING THE LEGALITY OF THE SOIL BANK REGULATIONS AND CONTRACTUAL PROVISIONS, WHICH, IN CERTAIN INSTANCES, PROHIBIT PAYMENTS TO FARMERS FOR ACREAGE PLACED IN THE ACREAGE RESERVE UNLESS HE PLOWS UP ADDITIONAL ACREAGE WHICH IS IN EXCESS OF HIS "SOIL BANK BASE" BUT WITHIN THE ACREAGE ALLOTMENT REMAINING TO HIM.

THE EXAMPLE PRESENTED IS A SMALL COTTON FARMER IN MISSISSIPPI WITH A COTTON ACREAGE ALLOTMENT OF 4 ACRES AND A SOIL BANK BASE OF 2 ACRES FOR 1958. HE PLACED HIS SOIL BANK BASE OF 2 ACRES IN THE ACREAGE RESERVE FOR 1958 AND PLANTED 1.6 ACRES OF THE REMAINING 2 ACRES OF HIS ALLOTMENT. HAS BEEN INFORMED THAT, UNDER THE REGULATIONS AND HIS ACREAGE RESERVE CONTRACT, HE WILL NOT RECEIVE PAYMENT FOR THE 2 ACRES PLACED IN THE ACREAGE RESERVE UNLESS HE PLOWS UP THE 1.6 ACRES HE HAS PLANTED.

IT HAS BEEN CONTENDED THAT THIS REQUIREMENT TO DESTROY THE CROP IS IN EXCESS OF ANY AUTHORITY GRANTED IN THE SOIL BANK ACT, AND THAT SUCH A REQUIREMENT IN A SOIL BANK CONTRACT IS THEREFORE NULL AND VOID EVEN THOUGH THE CONTRACT HAS BEEN ACCEPTED AND SIGNED BY THE PRODUCER. THIS CONTENTION IS BASED ON THE FIRST SENTENCE OF SECTION 103 (A) OF THE SOIL BANK ACT, 70 STAT. 189, TO THE EFFECT THAT NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW, THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE IS AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO FORMULATE AND CARRY OUT AN ACREAGE RESERVE PROGRAM UNDER WHICH PRODUCERS SHALL BE COMPENSATED FOR REDUCING THEIR ACREAGES OF THE COMMODITY BELOW THEIR FARM ACREAGE ALLOTMENTS. THE QUESTION IS WHETHER YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO ESTABLISH A "SOIL BANK BASE" AS THE MEASUREMENT FOR THE COMPENSATION OF PRODUCERS PARTICIPATING IN THE PROGRAM WHICH, IN SOME INSTANCES, WILL DENY TO THE PRODUCER THE RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ACREAGE RESERVE IF HE CHOOSES TO UTILIZE HIS FULL FARM ACREAGE ALLOTMENT.

IF YOU RELY UPON THE SENTENCE IN SECTION 103 (A) OF THE SOIL BANK ACT AUTHORIZING THE INCLUSION IN THE ACREAGE RESERVE PROGRAM OF SUCH TERMS AND CONDITIONS AS YOU DETERMINE DESIRABLE TO EFFECTUATE THE PURPOSES OF THE ACT AND TO FACILITATE THE PRACTICAL ADMINISTRATION OF THE ACREAGE RESERVE PROGRAM, A FURTHER QUESTION IS RAISED AS TO WHETHER YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO SUSPEND THE PROVISIONS OF OTHER ACTS, SUCH AS THE AGRICULTURAL ACT OF 1949, 63 STAT. 1051, RELATING TO PRICE SUPPORTS ON CROPS PRODUCED ON THE REMAINDER OF AN ACREAGE ALLOTMENT WHERE PART OF SUCH ALLOTMENT HAS BEEN PLACED IN THE SOIL BANK.

WE WOULD APPRECIATE RECEIVING YOUR VIEWS ON THESE QUESTIONS AND THE REASONS FOR ESTABLISHING A SOIL BANK BASE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE SINCE SOME PRODUCERS HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED TO PLOW UP THEIR DISPUTED COTTON ACREAGE OR LOSE THEIR SOIL BANK PAYMENT AND POSSIBLY BE SUBJECT TO CIVIL PENALTIES.