Boozman asks Vilsack for accounting of COVID-19 spending
Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., on Monday sent Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack a letter asking for an accounting of the $11 billion included under Section 751 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 to help farmers, ranchers, loggers, restaurants, schools, and others respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Under the direction of Congress, and to offset price and revenue declines experienced during the pandemic, USDA successfully distributed billions of dollars of relief to producers of agricultural commodities through a variety of efforts including top-up payments for crop and livestock producers, payments to contract livestock and poultry producers, and grants to food processors and distributors to ensure safety during the pandemic, among other priorities. Many of USDA’s efforts appropriately aligned with the intent of Congress to help agriculture and food industry stakeholders respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Boozman wrote.
“I am concerned, however, that as the need for additional financial resources to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic has waned, USDA has begun using unobligated balances from Section 751 of Subtitle B of Title VII of Division N of the CAA for projects unrelated to mitigating the impacts of the coronavirus. Because of my concerns, I request a report of all programs and activities funded or intended to be funded using the amounts appropriated under Section 751 of the CAA and USDA’s rationale explaining how the use of said funds is consistent with the law.”