Agriculture's Internet plan would create online services for farmers

Agriculture's Internet plan would create online services for farmers

By Frank Tiboni

GCN Staff

The Agriculture Department and Congress plan to roll out a communications infrastructure to let farmers communicate with USDA via the Internet, USDA's chief information officer said recently.

'We're working together so we can fully implement the Freedom to E-File Act,'' said Anne F. Thomson Reed, referring to a House bill that would require the department to set up interactive online services for farmers.

The department would be required to provide the electronic filing services within 180 days of enactment. USDA officials have said the department cannot meet that deadline.

The department recently answered questions from the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee on what it would take to implement online services. USDA is waiting for a response from the committee, Reed said.

Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) introduced the bill, HR 852, in February. Sen. Peter G. Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) introduced a Senate version, S 777, in April.

The senate passed its version Nov. 4 and sent it to the House the following day, Reed said.

The House plans to consider the bill when it reconvenes after the holiday recess.

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