USDA proposes a new definition of what it means to farm, limiting small number of subsidies

Economic Indicators Associated Press

The government is revising its definition of what it means to farm, meaning some people who receive farm subsidies but don't do any of the work would receive less government cash.

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Congress asked the Agriculture Department last year to create a new definition for what it means to be "actively engaged" in farming, the criteria for some subsidies. USDA proposed Tuesday that farm managers put in 500 hours of substantial management work annually or 25 percent of the time necessary for the success of the farming operation to qualify.

Congress exempted family owned entities, which make up some of the country's largest farms, as part of a provision directing USDA to issue the new rules.

USDA says as many as 1,400 operations could lose eligibility under the rules.