Vilsack CCC Farm Bill Remedy Has Some Support Even From Critics

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently suggested use of Commodity Credit Corporation Funds as a remedy for the lack of farm bill funding to increase crop subsidy triggers or reference prices. And that idea may have support, even among its critics.

Vilsack insists the $30 billion CCC fund is a silver bullet and told a farm audience recently; “The ARC payments and the PLC payments and the CRP payments all come from the Commodity Credit Corporation, so they’ve done it in the past. They just need to get to a point where they understand and appreciate, that is the easiest and simplest and best way to get a farm bill done.”

House and Senate conservatives want limits on CCC use for things like climate smart programs but seem flexible otherwise.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the USDA Spending Accountability Act and says; “Secretaries of Agriculture, both Republican and Democrat, have used excess funds in the CCC, for their own agenda. It’s become one of the most costly tools in the farm safety net. Importantly, it will stop USDA from undermining the role of Congress, in writing the upcoming farm bill.”

And save some $8 billion, half of which Grassley would spend on deficit reduction, but the rest for farm programs. Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) with Ranking Ag Republican John Boozman (R-AR) asked Secretary Vilsack last year for trade promotion help from the CCC. Stabenow said, “A large part of that is already the way we fund the farm bill, so it’s not that there’s additional.”

Vilsack later announced use of $2.3 billion in CCC funds for export promotion and international food aid. He says, “The decision that we’re making and the decision we were asked to make by Senators Boozman and Stabenow is designed to provide some additional boost, at a time when it is challenging for the drafters of the farm bill to provide the resources necessary to meet all of the demand.”