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Frontline Democrats to Oppose House Farm Bill

Politico’s Meredith Lee Hill reported Wednesday morning that “frontline Democrats (are) set to oppose (the) House farm bill in markup tomorrow.”

“Specifically, frontline Democrats will vote for amendments stripping out nutrition and climate policies in the GOP bill they oppose, then most are set to vote no on the massive legislation,” Lee Hill reported. “…’We’re still discussing the amendment strategy, but I’m pretty sure that things will be offered, and then we’ll see if Chairman Thompson is open to negotiating,’ Rep Yadira Caraveo (D-Colo) said.”

Despite any Democrat opposition, “the GOP-led House farm bill will pass either way with GOP votes out of committee,” Lee Hill reported. “Several frontline Democrats tell us they aren’t in a spot yet to support Senate Ag Chair Stabenow’s rival plans, however. Outlook for final passage of any farm bill this year still is very, very bleak.”

CCC Spending Comes Into Focus Before Markup

While some Democrats are set to oppose the Farm Bill in House Ag Committee mark up tomorrow, another issue that has become contentious in recent days is the House Farm Bill provision to restrict USDA use of the Commodity Credit Corp. fund.

On Thursday, “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack defended USDA’s use of the Commodity Credit Corp. fund, saying a House farm bill provision that would tie the secretary’s hands would be a ‘mistake,’according to reporting from Progressive Farmer’s Chris Clayton.

“A provision in the initial House farm bill text released last Friday would restrict Vilsack or a future agriculture secretary from using CCC dollars to only carry out operations specifically authorized by Congress,” Clayton reported. Currently and “…without restrictions, USDA is allowed to borrow and spend up to $30 billion out of the CCC, though the dollars must go to help boost farm income.”

Clayton reported that “Vilsack told reporters that House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, R-Pa., didn’t consult him on the provision. Vilsack has called on lawmakers to work with him to use the CCC fund to help bolster commodity programs without forcing cuts in other areas of the farm bill.”

Savings for CCC Restrictions Disputed

Agri-Pulse’s Steve Davies, Philip Brasher, and Noah Wicks reported Monday that Thompson has said the proposed CCC changes in the House Farm Bill would result in savings of “about $53 billion.” That savings would then be used to cover the cost of “modifications to the commodity and crop insurance titles” proposed in the bill.

However, Davies, Brasher and Wicks reported that “according to excerpts of an email from the Congressional Budget Office this weekend reviewed by Agri-Pulse, CBO is insisting Thompson can count on only $8 billion in savings.”

“The email goes on to warn ‘that it is possible to read the (CCC) provision as meaningless, which would result in savings of $0,'” Davies, Brasher and Wicks reported. “But the email reiterates that CBO believes that the provision could save $8 billion over 10 years.”

Davies, Brasher and Wicks reported that House Ag Committee majority staff said that “CBO is incorrect on the CCC and we continue to work with the Budget Committee to address the situation.”

Disagreements Over CCC Spending Not New

Clayton reported that “Vilsack and congressional Republicans have been at odds over the CCC fund since the Biden administration used $3.1 billion to create the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities pilot projects. The projects’ aim is to help farmers market commodities grown with practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or sequester carbon. Republicans saw it as USDA using CCC dollars to expand conservation spending without congressional approval.”

“Vilsack defended the Biden administration’s use of the CCC dollars, saying it has not needed to be ‘refilled,'” Clayton reported. “Vilsack reiterated he has been responsible in handling the fund. ‘We’ve used it in a very strategic and surgical-like method to address specific needs and specific times to create new and expanding opportunities for producers,’ Vilsack said.”

“The secretary added that ‘artificial constraints’ would make it harder for USDA to respond to both crises or opportunities for farmers,” Clayton reported. “”It would be a mistake to restrain the capacity of any secretary to use the CCC,’ Vilsack said.”

Ryan Hanrahan is the Farm Policy News editor and social media director for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked in local news, primarily as an agriculture journalist in the American West. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri (B.S. Science & Agricultural Journalism). He can be reached at

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