Farmers on track to e-file for subsidies
- By Judi Hasson
- Mar 30, 2000
The House Agriculture Committee approved legislation (H.R. 852) on Wednesday
that would let farmers file federal paperwork electronically.
The bill would require the Agriculture Department to establish a system
that would let farmers use the Internet to request federal subsidies. The
system would have to be available within six months of the bill's passage.
The legislation now goes to the Senate for action.
"The ability to download and submit forms via the Internet will help reduce
the amount of time producers must spend away from their crops doing paperwork,"
said Rep. Larry Combest (R-Texas), the committee chairman.
The legislation also would give the public Internet access to information
such as farm programs and quarterly trade and economic reports. Most of
that information is available on a delayed basis on USDA's World Wide Web
site, but farmers still must file requests for financial help using a pen
and a paper form.
Recent surveys have found that nearly one-third of all farms have access
to the Internet, and 40 percent of all farmers own or lease a computer,
and the number is rising dramatically.
"As people are getting used to getting services on the Internet for other
things — ordering airline tickets or food — they are expecting the government
to provide the same level of service," said William Hadesty, USDA's new