Thomas Walker, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, said the investigation is continuing and that others may still be charged.

"Crop insurance fraud is the same as mortgage fraud and health care fraud," Walker said. "It's all about greed and stealing from the taxpayer. We aggressively pursue these criminals just like we pursue drug dealers and other crooks."

“By protecting federal crop insurance and improving the safety net, the 2013 farm bill helps provide farmers with the resources they need to do business. Farmers are key to continuing to grow North Carolina’s agribusiness industry, which contributes over $77 billion to the state's economy,” says Erica Peterson, executive vice-president of the North Carolina Agribusiness Council.

Charles Hall, president of the North Carolina Soybean Growers Association says, “The North Carolina Soybean Producers Association thanks Senator Hagan for her support of the farm bill, including the programs that protect against risks or provide incentives for conservation practices, all providing for the continuity of North Carolina’s farm families.” 

Hall, who represents growers who produce more than 1.5 million acres of soybeans annually adds that agriculture is North Carolina’s largest industry, generating $77 billion in economic activity and employing nearly one-fifth of the state’s workforce.

The Senate version of the bill, which costs almost $100 billion annually, also would eliminate subsidies that are paid to farmers whether they farm or not. All told, it would save about $2.4 billion a year on farm and nutrition programs, including across-the-board cuts that took effect earlier this year.

The Senate passed a similar farm bill last year on a bipartisan 64-35 vote. However, passage by the U.S. House of Representatives is again likely to be contentious at best.

Last year, the House declined to take up the legislation during an election year and amid disagreements over how much should be cut from the food stamp program, which now serves one in seven Americans and cost almost $80 billion last year. That cost has more than doubled since 2008.


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