GOP Lawmakers Want Vilsack to Detail Justification for Climate-Smart Pilot Program

Source: By Chris Clayton, Progressive Farmer • Posted: Monday, October 31, 2022

Rep. Dan Newhouse, who chairs the Congressional Western Caucus in the House, led a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack wanting an explanation for USDA's use of Commodity Credit Corp. funds for a climate-smart pilot project program.
Rep. Dan Newhouse, who chairs the Congressional Western Caucus in the House, led a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack wanting an explanation for USDA’s use of Commodity Credit Corp. funds for a climate-smart pilot project program.

Republican lawmakers on Monday wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack with questions about how USDA is spending money and asking for justification on USDA’s Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities.

Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., and Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., led a letter of ten GOP House members to Vilsack on the $2.8 billion that went to the climate-smart pilot projects along with the expectation that the funds will go up to $3.5 billion with later announcements.

The Republican lawmakers wrote, “We are dismayed at the lack of transparency and congressional consultation throughout the development of this process. In no way can $3.5 billion be considered a ‘pilot program,’ and there must be direct congressional involvement before a program of this magnitude is implemented.”

The letter questioned why funds were going to partner organizations rather than going directly to farmers and ranchers “in this difficult farm economy when so many are struggling with rising input costs, drought, and an ongoing supply chain crisis.”

The lawmakers added, “USDA’s unilateral move has raised questions about current and future congressional oversight of CCC funding.”

The GOP letter requests responses from USDA on multiple questions. The fully letter can be found here: https://westerncaucus.house.gov/…

Separately, Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, sent his own letter to Vilsack requesting a report on $11 billion included in last year’s appropriations bill.

As the need for additional financial resources for COVID-19 “has waned,” Boozman said he is concerned about how USDA may be using “unobligated balances,” and Boozman wants USDA to report on all programs and activities funded under a specific $1 billion section of the act. Boozman wants funding levels, guidance from lawyers and economic analysis.

Boozman letter: https://www.agriculture.senate.gov/…

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

|