Report: USDA payments to non-farmers remain high

The largest federal farm payments were disproportionately paid to farm operations primarily made up of managers, or those who did not actively work on the farm, according to a new government watchdog report released in May. Farm investors and managers received nearly $260 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture subsidy payments in 2015, the Government Accountability Office reported. The top 19 operations receiving farm subsidies in 2015 had an average of nine managers receiving payments.  

Steve Morris, Director of Natural Resources and Environment for the GAO, said a trend identified in 2013 is still evident in the 2015 data. “When you look at the definition of ‘actively engaged’ and how that’s breaking out, I think some of those patterns remain consistent,” he said.

Lawsuits against seed-corn companies shed light on rising use of labor contractors

A two-year investigation by the Midwest Center of Investigative Reporting found, Monsanto and its counterpart in GMO corn production, DuPont Pioneer, have faced repeated allegations of labor violations over the past decade related to a growing use of farm labor contractors.

Here's a look at some of the complaints.

Comments pour in as EPA water rule discussion comes to a close

The EPA’s proposed “Waters of the United States” rule would add to the Clean Water Act by defining whether a water body is – or is not – protected by the act. The public has until Oct. 20 to formally comment on the proposed rule. So far, the rule has received nearly 6,000 comments. Hundreds of others have chosen to discuss the rule through social media, as well.

As deaths add up, farmers ‘walk the grain’ unprotected

In July, a 55-year-old man working for Premier Cooperative in Sidney, Ill., suffocated and died after becoming trapped in a grain bin filled with corn. His death marked the first grain-bin fatality for Illinois this year, but with expected large crop yields coming, more farmers may be at risk.