Farms Sue USDA Over Placement on Crop Insurance Ineligibility List

A group of Indiana farms sued the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Monday, seeking judicial redress of an agency determination that placed it on the Ineligibility Tracking System (ITS) List.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s website, the ITS List ” contains records of producers who are not eligible to participate in any crop insurance programs insured or reinsured by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC).”

The complaint recounted a decade-long series of events, agency actions, and appeals that culminated in the filing of the lawsuit. The dispute crystalized, according to the complaint, in 2018, when the Risk Management Agency, which manages the federal crop insurance program, made a determination after an investigation that the plaintiffs “lacked an insurable interest in the 2011 crop year and misrepresented eligibility as an insurable entity.”

Critically, the complaint contends, the agency’s decision required the insurance company to void the crop insurance policy. While they opposed this determination, the plaintiffs entered into a payment plan for the overpaid indemnity. The next year, in 2019, the Risk Management Agency withdrew its initial determination, admitting that it had no legal authority to require the voiding of the policy.

The plaintiffs now object to their placement on the ITS list due to failure to abide by the payment agreements. While the plaintiffs say the decision to void was solely based on the withdrawn agency determination, the insurance company said it made the decision independently. After a series of appeals, the plaintiffs are seeking a judgment “declaring that the Director Determination violated Plaintiffs’ right to due process of law, and was not in accord with the governing statutes and regulations, unsupported by substantial evidence, and arbitrary and capricious.”

The plaintiffs are represented by McAfee & Taft.