White House, Democrats reach deal to fund farm payments

Source: By Phil Brasher, Agri-Pulse • Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Democrats reached a deal with the White House and congressional Republicans to allow replenishment of the Agriculture Department’s Commodity Credit Corp. account in exchange for prohibiting CCC payments to oil companies and extending some pandemic-related nutrition assistance.

A stopgap funding bill that Democrats had released on Monday to keep the government funded until Dec. 11 omitted a provision the Trump administration sought to refill the CCC account. The CCC is a revolving, $30 billion fund that USDA uses to disburse farm program payments and provide marketing loans to farmers as well as provide special assistance programs.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, under pressure from some members of her own caucus on the CCC issue, said in a statement the agreement would “add nearly $8 billion in desperately needed nutrition assistance for hungry schoolchildren and families. We also increase accountability in the Commodity Credit Corp., preventing funds for farmers from being misused for a Big Oil bailout.”

The new version of the bill subsequently passed the House Tuesday night, 359-57.

The prohibition on payments to refiners was a response to reports that the White House was planning to use the CCC to make payments to companies that had been denied waivers from the Renewable Fuel Standard. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Monday that USDA didn’t have the legal authority to make such payments.

“Democrats have heard our call, and the calls from farm country, to not ignore rural America when funding the government,” said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan “This bipartisan deal is a step in the right direction to allow agriculture producers across America to continue feeding the country and the world, especially at a time when markets are unpredictable and prices are low.”

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