August 3, 2022

Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Services Agency: Agricultural Disaster Compensation Programs

B-332839

January 22, 2021

The Honorable Pat Roberts
President
The Honorable Debbie Stabenow
Ranking Member
Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee
United States Senate

The Honorable David Scott
President
The Honorable K. Michael Conaway
Ranking Member
Committee on Agriculture
House of Representatives

Matter: Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Services Agency: Agricultural Disaster Compensation Programs

Pursuant to Section 801(a)(2)(A) of Title 5 of the United States Code, here is our report on an important rule promulgated by the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Farm Service Agency titled ‘agricultural disaster compensation’ ( RIN: 0560-AI55). We received the rule on January 4, 2021. It was published in the Federal Register as final rule on January 6, 2021. 86 Fed. Reg. 439. The declared effective date of the rule is January 6, 2021.

The USDA states that this final rule establishes the Quality Loss Adjustment Program to provide assistance to growers who have experienced qualifying crop quality losses due to hurricanes, excessive moisture, flooding, drought, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms and wildfires that occurred in calendar years 2018 and 2019. According to the USDA, the rule also changes the provisions of the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) to comply with the Supplementary Consolidated Appropriations Act 2020, adding excessive humidity and drought that occurred in 2018 and 2019 as qualifying catastrophic events. and clarification of the eligibility of sugar beets. Pub. L. No. 116-94, 133 Stat. 2534 (20 December 2019). The USDA states that changes to WHIP+ were self-applying and were previously implemented by the USDA.

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) requires 60 days for the effective date of a major rule from the date of publication in the Federal Register or receipt of the rule by Congress, whichever is later. 5 USC § 801(a)(3)(A). However, the 60-day delay from the effective date may be waived if the agency concludes for cause that such delay is impractical, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest, and if the agency incorporates a statement conclusions and his reasons in the rule. Published. 5 USC §§ 553(b)(3)(B), 808(2). The USDA has found cause for the provisions of this rule to become effective upon publication, as it has determined that the public notice and proceedings are contrary to the public interest given the nature of the rule and the need to implement it quickly to provide assistance to agricultural producers. . The USDA has therefore determined that it is not necessary to delay the effective date 60 days from the date of publication to allow for Congressional review and that this rule is effective upon its publication in the Federal Register.

Attached is our assessment of USDA’s compliance with the procedural steps required by Title 5 Section 801(a)(1)(B)(i) through (iv) with respect to the rule. If you have any questions about this report or would like to contact GAO officials responsible for valuation work relating to the subject matter of the rule, please contact Shari Brewster, Assistant General Counsel, at (202) 512-6398.

Shirley A.Jones
Associate Legal Director

Pregnant

cc: Mary Ann Ball
USDA/FPAC-BC

PREGNANT

REPORT UNDER 5 USC § 801(a)(2)(A) ON A MAJOR RULE
ISSUED BY THE
Agriculture Department,
Agricultural Services Agency
ENTITLED
“Agricultural Disaster Compensation Programs”
(RIN: 0560-AI55)

(i) Cost-benefit analysis

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) said this final rule is expected to result in payments of approximately $950 million for continued disaster relief program delivery, including payments to eligible producers. for production losses due to excessive moisture and extreme drought under the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) and for quality losses covered under the Quality Loss Adjustment (QLA) Program, as provided by the Supplementary Consolidated Appropriations Act 2020. Pub. L. No. 116-94, 133 Stat. 2534 (20 December 2019). Of this amount, the USDA anticipates that approximately $500 million will be available for QLA program payments. However, according to the USDA, the amount of funding ultimately available for the QLA program will not be known until other payments, such as for excess moisture and drought under WHIP+, are finalized.

(ii) Agency Actions Regarding the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 USC §§ 603-605, 607 and 609

The USDA has determined that this final rule is not subject to RFA because the USDA is not required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) or any other law to issue a proposed rule for this rule.

(iii) Agency Actions Regarding Sections 202-205 of the Unfunded Warrants Reform Act of 1995, 2 USC §§ 1532-1535

The USDA has determined that this final rule contains no federal mandates for state, local, or tribal governments, or for the private sector.

(iv) Other relevant information or requirements under laws and decrees

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 USC §§ 551 and following.

The USDA said the APA is not required to publish a proposed rule for this regulation. The USDA has determined that the 30-day time limit in the effective date provisions under the APA also does not apply to this rule. In particular, the USDA has stated that this rule involves programs of payments to certain producers of agricultural commodities and therefore falls within the exception for the rules regarding a matter relating to the management or personnel of an agency or to public property, loans, grants, benefits or contracts. The USDA has concluded that the notice and public process are contrary to the public interest because of the nature of the rule and the need to implement the regulations quickly to provide assistance to agricultural producers.

Red Tape Reduction Act (PRA), 44 USC §§ 3501-3520

The USDA said the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved a 6-month emergency information gathering for the QLA program information gathering request.

Legal authorization of the rule

The USDA has promulgated this final rule under Sections 1531 and 4501 of Title 7; Section 3801 Note to Title 16; and Section 2497 of Title 19, United States Code; and Title III of Public Law 109-234; Title IX of Public Law 110-28; article 748 of public law 111-80; title I of public law 115-123; Title I of Public Law 116-20; and Section B, Title VII of Public Law 116-94.

Executive Order No. 12866 (Planning and Regulatory Review)

The OMB has determined that this final rule is economically significant under the order and has reviewed the rule.

Executive Order No. 13132 (Federalism)

The USDA has determined that this rule will not have a substantial direct effect on the states, on the federal-state relationship, or on the distribution of powers and responsibilities among the different levels of government, unless the law requires it. According to the USDA, this rule also does not impose substantial direct compliance costs on state and local governments.