Cross Compliance:

USDA Could Reduce Crop Production by Requiring Cross Compliance

RCED-86-64BR: Published: Dec 11, 1985. Publicly Released: Dec 11, 1985.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided a summary of its analysis of the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) current production control programs and the use of a cross-compliance requirement to increase program effectiveness.

GAO found that: (1) production control programs that USDA has used since 1982 permit farmers who enroll one or more crops to offset part or all of their decreased production of enrolled crops by increasing their plantings of unenrolled crops on the same farm; (2) one way to alleviate this condition would be to include a cross-compliance feature in the programs; and (3) this feature has not been used because of congressional concern that it would limit farmers' flexibility to decide how much of each program crop to plant and deter them from joining the program. GAO also found that one approach to cross-compliance would: (1) allow farmers to join the acreage reduction program of their choice; (2) limit their planting of other program crops to their base acreage on previously grown crops; (3) pay them program benefits, such as price-support payments and deficiency payments, only for those programs that they join; and (4) have reduced the number of acres planted to program crops in 1984 by 7.4 million. GAO interviewed 25 farmers and 19 stated that they would participate in production control programs if the cross-compliance requirement were used. Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service officials stated that cross-compliance would not be difficult to administer and would be more effective in reducing the number of acres planted to program crops than current programs.

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