Sens. Marshall, Grassley, Braun Introduce Bill to Weed Out Wasteful Spending at USDA

Washington, D.C. – Sens. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) today introduced legislation to curb wasteful spending at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA Spending Accountability Act would limit the disbursal of funds through the USDA’s financing institution, known as the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), to be permitted only when authorized by Congress.

“The USDA has to respect the process and decisions made by Congress. Unfortunately, over the past couple years we have seen USDA use the Commodity Credit Corporation like a slush fund without following the proper protocols for congressional oversight. Even the Government Accountability Office has ruled that many of USDA’s newly created programs should have been submitted to Congress for review. Our legislation ensures that the USDA cannot come in and undermine Congress’s role by unilaterally and prematurely deciding spending levels for programs that may not even be included in our final Farm Bill text.” Marshall said. “Not only will this bill reign in USDA’s slush fund, it will serve to help reduce the cost of the Farm Bill and allow us to fund priorities Congress deems worthy.”

“Any good farmer knows that a successful farming operation requires good judgement and strong discipline to balance expenses. The Department of Agriculture should reflect these principles,” Grassley said. “I’m concerned that the CCC is at risk of becoming a slush fund for politically-driven pet projects. When it comes to agriculture spending, we ought to separate the wheat from the chaff. U.S. dollars should only go to programs that have been specifically authorized by Congress. I’d like to preserve half of the documented savings associated with this bill. The other half should go toward long-term investments in agriculture research and increasing foreign market development. Concentrating on these priorities will win bipartisan support and surely benefit Iowans.”

“There must be accountability and transparency across the board in government spending, and the USDA is no exception. This legislation will curb unauthorized, wasteful spending at the USDA and ensure that we save money in the Farm Bill to support popular programs that our farmers depend on, like agricultural research and trade programs,” Braun said.

The CCC is intended to fund a wide range of farm bill programs authorized by Congress. The Secretary of Agriculture has broad discretionary authority in spending excess CCC funds. This includes reimbursing farmers for losses due to trade disputes and funding climate grants, often to multinational corporations. Recent instances of discretionary spending abuse have prompted bipartisan concern, as these programs are enacted without input from Congress and allow USDA to act as authorizer and appropriator. By removing this discretionary authority, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the USDA Spending Accountability Act would save $8 billion over ten years. The substantial savings created by this bill would assist Congress in its goal to find savings in every nook and cranny of the Farm Bill. 

The full text of the bill can be found HERE.