Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is touting CCC dollars as a viable cushion to help supplement scarce farm bill dollars.
Stabenow told farm reporters outside the Senate chamber last week that she and Ranking Ag Republican John Boozman (R-AR) appealed to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack for trade promotion dollars from the CCC.
She said, “At the top of the list of all the hearings we’ve done has been trade promotion and marketing assistance to help be able to sell our products overseas. And so, we’ve asked the Secretary to provide dollars through the CCC to meet that need and to do it quickly so we’re not waiting ‘til the end of the year.”
And by doing so, cushioning a farm bill whose funding the budget committees won’t increase. “We’re looking for every way to expand funding to get things done for our farmers,” according to Stabenow. “And so, we’ll see what they determine in terms of the amount of money from the CCC, but I expect if the Secretary can do it, that it will be robust funding.”
Stabenow says up to $30 billion in CCC dollars is available for commodity efforts like the Market Assistance Program and McGovern-Dole humanitarian assistance. “A large part of that is already the way we fund the farm bill, so it’s not that there’s additional,” according to Stabenow.
House lawmakers meantime, return from their summer break this week. Ag Chair GT Thompson has also been slowed by trying to find savings to cushion the farm bill baseline, and now by looming partisan fights over government-wide spending likely to devour floor time. Thompson says this could cause him to delay committee action.