A Georgia Republican says as Congress gears up to write the next farm bill, he’s looking to add new "guardrails" to prescribe how the funds in the Commodity Credit Corporation are used.

“When we get to write the Farm Bill … we're going to have to make sure funds that are set aside for production agriculture do not get stolen from production agriculture and put into the things that they were never intended for,” said Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., on this week’s Agri-Pulse Newsmakers. “I'm very concerned about making sure that we put the guardrails on the funds, so that the funds for production agriculture stay in production agriculture.”

In February 2021, Scott reintroduced legislation to raise the CCC’s borrowing authority to “help to maintain balanced and adequate supplies of agricultural goods and the implementation of farm bill programs,” given the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scott’s bill would raise the CCC’s borrowing authority from $30 billion to $68 billion to give USDA greater flexibility to maintain farm bill programs that support U.S. producers and the domestic agricultural market. The last time the CCC’s borrowing authority was adjusted was 1987.

“I'm disappointed in the way [the administration has] chosen to use those funds for environmental related policy instead of for production agriculture,” said Scott.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is using the CCC to fund an initiative called the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities to develop markets for crops and livestock products that have a smaller environmental footprint. The projects will involve all 50 states and a broad array of farm and conservation groups as well as corporations. 

As Scott looks ahead to 2023, he says some of his farm bill priorities include raising reference prices for producers due to higher input costs and re-evaluating the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to determine which foods are covered in the program . Scott also wants to tighten SNAP work requirements. 

This week’s panel includes Danielle Beck with Invariant, Jonathan Coppess with the University of Illinois, and RJ Karney with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. They discussed what they believe will be the main issues in next year’s farm bill. 

To watch this week’s show, click here.

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