USDA’s $1 billion “Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities” was just announced Monday and is already generating lots of heat on Capitol Hill.
GOP General Farm Commodities lawmakers told Undersecretary Robert Bonnie USDA may be exceeding its authority in spending $1 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation money for climate-smart commodity pilot projects.
Full-committee Ranking Republican Glenn Thompson; “The NRCS was the agency issuing the notice of funding availability. Seems like the department is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole to avail yourselves of the CCC authority and funds. And frankly, to me, this looks like a conservation program, dressed up as a marketing program.”
Undersecretary Bonnie’s response was, “And while it does sit in NRCS, we’ll draw on expertise from across the department, the Office of the Chief Economist, FSA and others, as we move forward on this.”
Across the Capitol, Ag Senator Chuck Grassley argued the Commodity Credit Corporation is for disasters and other emergencies. “Kind of a standby operation where there’s a pot of money, the Secretary can use for people in trouble, farmers in trouble. For a new program, I think that ought to be granted by Congress.”
Grassley suggested the issue could be brought up as part of the next farm bill.
Still, other Ag Republicans questioned how much more Ag could do than it’s already done to lower the planet’s temperature. Democrats countered expensive droughts, forest fires and storms all point to the need for action.