Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is extending the comment period for USDA’s new payment limit rules for 60 days.

Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa who was sworn in as secretary shortly after President Obama’s inauguration, said the extension would have no effect on the payment rules for the 2009 crops.

“President Obama has said he wants all parts of government to be transparent, participatory and collaborative,” said Vilsack. “We have decided we need to take a closer look at these rules.”

Vilsack said the current comment period for the interim final rule USDA issued in late December has attracted only a half dozen comments.

“We believe that by extending the comment period through the end of March we will give more people the opportunity to express their opinions.”

Speaking at his first official press briefing at USDA, Vilsack said USDA wants to make sure it targets payments to people who need them and deny them to those who are not eligible.

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