Convicted of crop insurance fraud, farmer says don’t do what he did

A Nebraska farmer recently convicted of crop insurance fraud is reminding farmers to avoid misrepresenting crop losses.

Ross Nelson of Newman Grove says yields on a 2015 crop were below the trendline. “When it came time to report bushels, I misrepresented the production on that farm.  I basically lied to the insurance company.  It was a large enough claim to require an audit and proceeded to lie to the RMA gentleman.” 

The misrepresentation was discovered after an audit comparing crop yields to neighboring farms and he was paid $700,000 in crop insurance.

In September, Nelson was ordered to pay $1 million in restitution and a $30,000 fine and he says he kept farming despite the financial setback. “If anybody had to choose now, would you rather go through this or quit farming? I would say for me, if I had known that those were my only two choices, I would have rather be done farming.”

He participated in a recent webinar by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as part of his community service requirements. “People do make mistakes even if you find yourself in a position where you have made a mistake, look for help.  There is help out there, but it’s not easy to find.”

Nelson says he is barred from crop insurance programs and other federal assistance programs.

The investigation was conducted by the USDA Officer of the Inspector General.

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