Ag ’25 Spending Hearing Quickly Segways to Farm Bill and CCC Use

A House hearing on FY 2025 spending quickly shifted to the farm bill and a dispute over the Commodity Credit Corporation fund, highlighting again the difficulty in writing a new farm law. Secretary Tom Vilsack was again confronted with charges he’s misusing the 30 billion-dollar CCC fund and being misleading that it’s a substitute for boosting farm bill safety net programs.

House Ag Appropriations Chair Andy Harris; “I’ve read your comments in news articles over the past few weeks suggesting that you can use CCC funds to help farm safety net programs outside of the regular farm bill process. I’m perplexed as to how USDA would be able to do this, as establishing reference prices and farm programs is done by Congress. The legislative branch, not the executive branch.”

Harris argued USDA cannot on its own fund new programs from the CCC if there’s no new farm bill again this year. But Secretary Vilsack wasted little time in refuting Harris.

Vilsack said, “I never suggested, nor did I ever say, that we would be using CCC outside the scope of farm bill discussions and negotiations. What I did say was in order for us to have a farm bill, it’s going to be necessary for members of the Ag Committee to be creative in how they can use the resources within the CCC at their instruction and direction, to be able to provide the relief and assistance they’re looking for to bolster our safety net.”

The CCC does help fund ARC, PLC, and CRP, and Vilsack agreed to a bipartisan Senate Ag request last year to use it for trade promotion programs. But Republicans charge Vilsack’s using CCC as a political ‘slush fund’ for pet projects like ‘Climate-Smart’ Ag, and the dispute again shows why it’s been so hard to achieve a bipartisan farm bill.

Story courtesy of NAFB News Service and Matt Kaye/Berns Bureau Washington