Ag Policy Blog

House Ag Chair Wants to Limit Ag Secretary Access to CCC Funds

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
Leaders of a Senate Agriculture subcommittee and leaders of the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union questioned the idea Tuesday of restricting how Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is allowed to use Commodity Credit Corp. dollars. GOP lawmakers complained about how Vilsack used the CCC funds for climate-smart commodities, but the Trump administration also used the funds in large volumes as well. (DTN file photo)

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Pa., said in Kansas City that one way to come up with more budget authority for the next farm bill may be to restrict the Agriculture secretary's use of the Commodity Credit Corporation, the Agriculture Department's line of credit at the Treasury Department, Agri-Pulse reported.

The Biden administration "dipped into billions from the CCC" for programs "that were not within the scope of eligibility, I don't believe," Thompson said, according to Agri-Pulse, referring to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's $3.1 billion Climate-Smart Commodities Initiative.

Thompson also said unspent pandemic relief assistance could be another source of farm bill funding, Agri-Pulse said.

The House Agriculture Committee press office did not respond to a request for elaboration on Thompson's comments.

But today on the sidelines of a Senate Agriculture subcommittee hearing on commodity programs, both the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the leaders of the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union questioned the idea in interviews with DTN.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said, "I don't know how that would help."

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., ranking member on the committee, said he would favor restricting the secretary's ability to decide how to spend money under the CCC but does not favor reducing the $30 billion per year that is currently available.

Boozman said he believes CCC "dollars need to be used for producers."

National Farmers Union President Rob Larew said the Agriculture secretary needs flexibility to use the CCC money "with no strings."

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said he agreed with Larew on the secretary's need for flexibility because the Agriculture secretary "has his finger on the pulse of the farm community." But Duvall added that "every avenue" needs to be explored in searching for money to increase the farm bill baseline.

At the hearing, Stabenow repeated a point that she had made to the North American Agricultural Journalists last week: that since a fight over the debt limit in 2011, farm programs have endured a cut of 5.7% each year and are scheduled to see those cuts continued until 2031.

After the hearing, Stabenow told reporters that perhaps that budget authority could be put back into the baseline.

Boozman also told DTN that one reason he would like to bring the budget authority for conservation and other USDA programs in the Inflation Reduction Act into the baseline and the farm bill is so that Republicans could have a say in how it is to be spent.

During the Obama administration, when the Republicans controlled Congress, they restricted Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's use of the CCC, but when Sonny Perdue became President Trump's Agriculture secretary and Trump pursued trade policies that led the Chinese to reduce U.S. agricultural imports, Perdue asked to have the flexibility restored, and the appropriators removed the restrictions. Perdue used the flexibility to make $23 billion payments for loss of trade-related income.

Also see,

"Senators Try to Address Ag, Farm Bill Needs While Balancing Debate on National Debt,"…

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport


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