Vilsack Pushes CCC Funds Amid Farm Bill Delay

Feb 20, 2024

As Congress kicks the farm bill can down the road, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has potential remedies for farm programs.


Legislative logjam: Congress is on its third extension of work on the farm bill after prolonged debate created a logjam and kept lawmakers from passing the legislation. Other congressional priorities could keep the bill on the back burner for a while. 


Funding fiasco: But issues covered by the farm bill are top-of-mind for farmers. Specifically, reference prices of commodities are a key issue amid anxiety over falling grain prices. Funding an increase in reference prices is a “big-ticket item”… with a big price tag.


Outside thinking: Debates around reference price funding included finding funds within the bill, which is projected to top a trillion dollars. However, Vilsack says funds could be found outside of the farm bill.


Vilsack argued that the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) fund can be used to address funding challenges. The CCC serves as a $30B discretionary fund for the USDA to tap for various programs. 


Vilsack says the funds can assist producers “through a difficult time.” Meanwhile, economists have argued for Congress to implement more oversight of CCC usage. 


Where this goes: With Congress still debating financial appropriations for fiscal year 2024, as well as foreign aid packages, some speculate that introducing the farm bill in March is a best-case scenario.

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