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Vilsack Refutes CCC ‘Slush Fund’ Claim

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack refutes GOP claims the Commodity Credit Corporation is a ‘slush fund’ for administration pet projects.

Vilsack told the National Farmers Unions’ annual convention, his GOP critics have it wrong on the $30 billion CCC, USDA’s financing institution. Vilsack says, “I get a kick out of our friends in Congress, they go, ‘it’s a slush fund, he’s just using it for whatever he wants to do.’ No, I don’t, I can’t do that, because I got lawyers, I got 230 some lawyers in the General Counsel’s office, who are scared to death, you don’t go into the guard rails. So, they’ll come to me and say, ‘Mr. Secretary, you can do this, and you can’t do this.’”

But Republicans see it differently–and not just with Democratic presidents. Senator Chuck Grassley blames Donald Trump for raiding CCC to offset China’s retaliation for his tariffs.

Grassley says, “Then, he found out it was hurting agriculture, so he just, willy nilly, takes 28 (B) billion dollars to give to the farmers to offset the bad impact that it has on American agriculture exports. I call that, a ‘slush fund.’”

Prompting Grassley and other Senate Republicans to introduce the USDA Spending Accountability Act and secure reporting requirements in the just enacted FY’24 Ag spending bill. But Vilsack argues the key example Republicans cite as CCC misuse, isn’t misuse, at all. Vilsack says, “So, when we did ‘climate-smart’ agriculture, we didn’t just simply say, ‘here’s money, go do sustainable practices,’ we said, ‘here’s money, go do sustainable practices and let’s create a new category of commodity, and let the market value that new category of commodity, because that’s the way you fit it into the CCC.”

Republicans agree that there are legitimate uses of CCC for farm subsidies and trade promotion but argue that even the Government Accountability Office has ruled that USDA should ask Congress first.

Story courtesy of NAFB News Service and Berns Bureau Washington/by Matt Kaye:

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