Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, in an unusual criticism of his home state’s former governor, claims Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is making it harder to write a new farm bill.
Grassley says efforts like the $3 billion Partnership for Climate Smart Commodities is rewarding big firms like Hershey and Campbells Soup and depleting funds for a new farm bill. Grassley; “USDA created this program without authorization from Congress. By creating new programs and taking actions that increase the price of SNAP by $250 billion, Secretary Vilsack is making it more difficult to pass a bipartisan farm bill.”
And tougher to find the dollars farm groups and lawmakers are clamoring for to boost outdated reference prices and deal with soaring input costs. Grassley; “We’re going to have to find the money someplace else to do it, you just can’t add to the total cost of the program by just assuming, you’re going to borrow the money.”
House Ag Chair GT Thompson and Ranking Democrat David Scott have both called on the Budget Committee to expand farm bill funding, but Grassley cautions; “With the high income we had last year, there might not be the need for it, even though we have commodity groups asking for increase. But, we’ll just have to play it by ear.”
Grassley says Secretary Vilsack is scheduled to testify Thursday before Senate Ag, when Vilsack could face some tough farm bill questioning.