Why are farmers insurance agents under fire?
Farmers insurance agents and agricultural professionals are under fire after an investigation revealed a troubling pattern of inappropriate and often predatory behavior.
The Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a report on Tuesday detailing numerous instances of improper payments, predatory practices and mismanagement by agents, who failed to properly document their activities.
The OIG found that the agriculture industry was a top contributor to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigations of predatory practices across the country.
The report also found that agricultural insurance agents were among those whose practices violated the USDA’s Farmland Fraud Act.
In at least one instance, an agent who performed insurance work in Kentucky allegedly paid an agricultural insurance company a sum in excess of $5,000, the OIG reported.
The investigation began in late 2018 when an inspector from the OPG came across payments totaling more than $1.8 million, including payments made to a farm insurance company.
The OIG began investigating the matter and found that an agent had made approximately $5.6 million in payments to the agricultural insurance firm.
According to the report, a payment of $1,000 to a commercial farm insurance agent, who was an active agent, was made in December 2018.
The amount of the payment was $1 million, but it was not disclosed to the inspector.
In July 2019, an employee at a farm and livestock insurance agency was accused of making a payment to an agent of $6,000 that was later returned to the agency.
The agent later told investigators that the amount of payment was “a small fraction” of the amount owed to the farm insurance agency.
The agency, which was located in the rural area of eastern Illinois, paid the payment to the agent in exchange for “protection from potential prosecution,” according to the OGE report.
The payment was made through a check sent to the name of the agent, which included the agent’s phone number, the agent name, and the agent address.
The report also revealed that agents made payments to agents that were not authorized by the agency to do so.
Agriculture Insurance Agents, which are paid by the USDA, are required to maintain records of payments made and any outstanding claims.
The records are also required to be available for inspection by the OAG.
The USDA said in a statement that the agency is conducting an internal investigation of the matter.
“The OAG has launched an internal review of the payments that have been made to the Farmland Protection Agency and has identified other instances of abuse of the agency’s payments system,” the agency said.
The Department of Treasury said in its own statement that it is working to determine how the payments were made and to determine what actions are necessary to ensure that these types of improper activities do not occur again.