Ag Policy Blog

Senators Call on Vilsack to Tap CCC Funds for Trade and Foreign Food Aid

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the ranking member and chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, are calling on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to use some of his spending authority to boost trade promotion and international food aid. (DTN file photo)

The chairwoman and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee have written Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to use Commodity Credit Corp. authority to create more trade promotion and international food assistance.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Ranking Member John Boozman, R-Ark., wrote Vilsack last week citing that they "continue to hear from organizations representing the vast majority of U.S. agriculture about the need to strengthen trade opportunities, increase revenue streams, and help producers grow and thrive in a global economy."

The senators are in the middle of trying to draft a farm bill and one mantra from commodity groups is that Congress needs to boost the flat funding that has existed for the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program typically dubbed as "MAP and FMD." Authorized funding for MAP has not been increased since 2006 and FMD has not seen a funding increase since 2002. Some lawmakers introduced a bill earlier this year to double funding for the two programs.

The senators cited in their letter the trade promotion programs, but called on Vilsack to use resources in the Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) to "support similar efforts to open access to markets and promote American-grown products abroad."

The senators added that there also is bipartisan support in Congress for USDA's international food-aid programs. The senator cited Russia's moves in Ukraine to continue disrupting supply chains.

"We urge you (Secretary Vilsack) to explore using CCC resources to advance food assistance initiatives, which will address humanitarian needs abroad and support American farmers."

While the senators are calling on Vilsack to use CCC funds, the House annual appropriations bill for USDA waiting floor action would put restrictions on how Vilsack could use CCC funds going forward.

The National Corn Growers Association praised Stabenow and Boozman for sending the letter to Vilsack. NCGA also noted the group has been calling on Congress to boost MAP and FMD funding as well.

"Cultivating new foreign markets is one of NCGA's top priorities," said NCGA President Tom Haag. "So, we are deeply appreciative of Sens. Boozman and Stabenow for taking the lead on this issue. Both senators have proven time and time again that they are staunch advocates of corn growers."

Also see, "Vilsack Calls for Congress to Maintain Funding Flexibility and Resources at USDA,"…

Chris Clayton can be reached at

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