Vilsack Sees No Farm Bill Until More Funding Flexibility

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says there won’t be a new farm bill until there’s “flexibility” in ways to fund one and the political will to do it. Vilsack told the National Farmers Union recently that lawmakers need to look outside the farm bill for farm safety net funds to avoid hurting popular conservation and nutrition programs.

He says, “It becomes a bit difficult to see the pathway to a farm bill unless folks say, how do we use all of the tools—not just the farm bill—how do we use all of the tools.”

Those tools include the politically controversial Commodity Credit Corporation or CCC. Vilsack says, “The CCC is a resource that’s available, and every year, virtually every year, there’s money left over in that CCC fund.”

But some in the GOP charge Vilsack and even the Trump Administration used CCC as a ‘slush fund’ for pet projects. Still, Vilsack says the fund, Inflation Reduction Act conservation dollars, current SNAP and WIC funding, in concert with a farm bill may be the only answer.

Vilsack says, “I think the attitude is that until we see that kind of flexibility, it’s going to be difficult, and there’s going to be a standstill, and then, some people think, well, an extension of the existing farm bill is better than a bad bill.”

Politico quoted Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow as saying that at a recent White House event, but Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says Stabenow told him her comments were taken out of context. Stabenow’s quote on limiting anti-hunger programs in a new farm bill: “I’m not going to do it, so if that means we continue the policies of the 2018 farm bill, then that’s ok.”

Article courtesy of the NAFB News Service and Matt Kaye, Berns Bureau Washington

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