USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack came under fire from Senate Ag Republicans on multiple fronts at a committee farm bill hearing. It started with top Ag Republican John Boozman accusing Vilsack of overstepping his authority and dramatically ramping up SNAP spending kept in check by former Secretary Sonny Perdue.
Vilsack said; “Senator, with all due respect, I don’t think I am necessarily bound by what Secretary Perdue decided while he was secretary.” Boozman in response said, “You’re bound by what this committee wanted to do, what CBO wanted to do, and we’re not bound by you finding loopholes to try and do things as you wish.”
Vilsack insisted he was acting within the law to update SNAP costs that other Republicans like Alabama’s Tommy Tuberville complained would now crowd out farm bill safety net spending. Tuberville; “Now this farm bill will have a price tag of over 1.4 trillion dollars, with over 1.2 trillion of it going to SNAP benefits.”
There were the usual complaints about the new Biden WOTUS rule and a non-FTA trade agenda, but also about depleting Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) dollars meant for commodity programs.
Vilsack; “We’re very careful to stay within the statutory language that authorizes the CCC expenditures, and we never ever, ever, ever put at risk the farm bill programs that require CCC funding.”
Some of which Vilsack says the USDA’s now spending to expand domestic fertilizer production and help food banks, but he also accused the Trump USDA of spending most of the $65 billion drawn since 2017.
And on USDA’s atrazine labeling recommendations, Kansas’ Roger Marshall says EPA ignored; “So, their, using their practices, we’re going to have to plow the ground, which we know is a huge carbon sink.” Vilsack “We have raised that issue with them, repeatedly.” Marshall “And what do they saying?” Vilsack “They have a disagreement with us, Senator. I don’t know what to say.” Marshall “Thank you.”
These comments were made this week during a Senate Ag Committee hearing.