The top Democrat on the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is defending Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack's usage of the Commodity Credit Corp. account and says Congress should "absolutely not" impose new restrictions.
“The CCC was put there for the very reasons that we're using it,” said Rep. Stanford Bishop, D- Ga., in an interview with Agri-Pulse Newsmakers. “It's interesting that when Republicans are in charge, they don't like to see the secretary be able to utilize the CCC to meet the needs of our farmers and our producers, which is what it was designed to do.”
Bishop noted there was “no complaint” when the CCC was used during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CCC restrictions that were imposed by Congress during Barack Obama's administration were removed in 2018 as then-President Donald Trump was in the midst of a trade war with China. Trump provided billions of dollars in trade assistance to U.S. farmers to compensate for losses that occurred from China’s retaliatory tariffs.
Republicans – including Rep. Andy Harris, R- Md., who spoke about the topic on Agri-Pulse Newsmakers last week – wants to reinstate the restrictions Congress lifted in 2018. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Pa., told Agri-Pulse this week that re-imposing restrictions on the CCC is a potential source of budget savings to help fund the next farm bill.
Harris claims Vilsack misused the CCC to fund the $3 billion Partnerships in Climate-Smart Commodities initiative.
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Bishop disagreed, saying, “The secretary is appropriately using the CCC consistent with its purposes.”
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has repeatedly defended the use of the CCC despite accusations that the department incorrectly used the program to fund $3 billion in climate-related projects.
Bishop also expressed his opposition to mandating increased research funding in the next farm bill. He said ag research funding should be left to the annual appropriations bills for USDA. The House and Senate Appropriations committees need the flexibility to “send that research where needs arise,” he said. Such needs could include a pest infestation or livestock disease, among other challenges.
James Glueck with Torrey Advisory Group and Jessica Schulken from The Russell Group also joined the show to discuss lessons learned from the Budget Control Act of 2011, the potential impacts of party control dynamics in farm bill deliberations and to provide a preview of what to expect from the debt ceiling meeting at the White House on Tuesday.
This week’s episode of Agri-Pulse Newsmakers is available at Agri-Pulse.com.
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