Forty-two agricultural organizations sent a letter to House and Senate leaders asking them to ensure USDA has the tools necessary to help farmers.
The groups, led by the American Farm Bureau Federation, are asking Congress to replenish Commodity Credit Corporation funding through the continuing resolution. Without immediate replenishment, funding for farm bill programs could run out.
“For decades, CCC has been regularly replenished to fund programs integral to the farm safety net that Congress has worked tirelessly to craft,” the letter states. “Producers count on programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage, Price Loss Coverage, Dairy Margin Coverage, Marketing Assistance Loans, conservation programs, and many others as they provide food, fuel and fiber for our nation. Without immediate CCC reimbursement, payments and programs would be significantly delayed, jeopardizing operations across the country.”
Although much recent attention has been focused on CCC aid to farmers to address the unprecedented crisis caused by the pandemic, the CCC is a stabilizing force across U.S. agriculture. The CCC is critical when natural disasters strike, enabling USDA to act quickly to deliver aid. The CCC is also core to advancing conservation efforts, having enrolled more than 140 million acres in USDA conservation programs – more than the land mass of California and New York combined.
Since 1987, the CCC has been replenished annually at $30 billion. Because CCC funds were used to fund the Market Facilitation Program and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, some in Congress are considering not reimbursing the CCC via the expected continuing resolution to extend government funding.
Without an immediate replenishment of the CCC in a continuing resolution, farm bill programs and payments expected to go out in early October would likely exhaust CCC resources by November. As a result, farm bill program payments after this point would be significantly delayed. It's estimated that as little as $2 billion remains in CCC borrowing authority.
The CARES Act reimbursed $14 billion of CCC expenses, however, congressional leaders intended for this replenishment to be used to offset COVID-19-related financial losses. It’s expected that USDA will announce a second round of CFAP payments in the coming weeks, which will likely use the $14 billion.
With a remaining balance of $2 billion or less, USDA’s projected outlays of $4.6 billion in commodity support payments and $2.3 billion in conservation payments for fiscal year 2021 are likely to exceed remaining CCC resources – likely exhausting the CCC and delaying any additional commodity support or conservation payments from being made for several months.