Farming operations leasing federally-owned lands are being told their base acres will be terminated and they will not receive government payments for any crops grown on the land.

Ted Serafini, congressional staffer for Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., confirmed that the government took advantage of a rule in the 2008 farm bill allowing owners of farmland to reduce their base acres. “The government took that rule and applied it to themselves.”

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Under the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, Sec. 1101, Base Acres, states, “The owner of a farm may reduce, at any time, the base acres for any covered commodity for the farm.”

The bill also states that the reduction, “shall be permanent and made in a manner prescribed by the secretary (of agriculture).”

The change has apparently become law. A letter (Notice DCP 204) from John Johnson, deputy administrator of farm programs for USDA’s Farm Service Agency, sent to FSA state and county offices stated that Part 1412 of the Code of Federal Regulations “provides that land owned by federal agencies will have base acres terminated for the 2009 crop year unless that land is subject to a lease agreement which was executed before Dec. 23, 2008, and is in effect beyond the 2009 crop year.”

email: erobinson@farmpress.com