Farmers closer to online filing

The House of Representatives approved a bill Monday to allow farmers and

ranchers doing business with the Agriculture Department to file federal

forms online.

"The time is long overdue for the USDA to get online with rural America,"

said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), a co-sponsor of the bill. "This legislation

is a reasonable, sensible way to help farmers spend less time filling out

paperwork and spend more time doing what they do best — farming."

The House approved the Freedom to E-File Act (S. 777) by a vote of 397-1.

It was passed by the Senate in November 1999 and now moves on to the president

for enactment.

The legislation would require the USDA to establish an electronic filing

and retrieval system to allow the public to file paperwork electronically.

The legislation would give farmers access to information on farm programs,

reports on trade and production and other relevant information over the

Internet.

Nearly one-third of the nation's 2.2 million farms have Internet access,

and an estimated 43 percent of all farmers with more than $100,000 in annual

sales have access to the Internet and use it.

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