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The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) is an agency owned by the U.S. government to assure a balanced and adequate supply and distribution of a variety of agricultural commodities throughout the country. Managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the CCC makes loans and payments, issues commercial guarantees, and provides materials and facilities for the production, storage, marketing, and distribution of U.S. agricultural products both domestically and overseas. It provides financing for the USDA's various farm price and income support commodity programs as well as assisting in its marketing and distribution. It also authorizes the sale and donation of agricultural products to foreign governments and international relief agencies as well as other U.S. government agencies. Most of the CCC's programs involve providing financial support for U.S. producers of agricultural commodities.
The CCC was created in 1933 by executive order of then President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the wake of the Dust Bowl that decimated U.S. farm output and farmers' livelihoods in order "to stabilize, support and protect farm income and prices." The CCC grants producers of agricultural commodities non-recourse commodity loans at a set rate per unit, a portion of the produce being pledged as collateral. CCC payments for those who qualify for farm subsidy and agricultural export programs are disbursed in the form of Commodity Certificates. The CCC is also authorized to transport, store, process, and dispose of agricultural commodities and their products, typically by contracting with private sector owners of commercial warehouses to for storage in county and transport terminals.
USDA Farm Service Agency staff actually carry out most of the Commodity Credit Corporation's price support, storage, and reserve programs as the agency itself has no operations staff. In addition, the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service sometimes acts with CCC authority to purchase or sell agricultural commodities for domestic and foreign food assistance programs. The General Sales Manager of the Foreign Agricultural Service manages export sales and disposal of CCC agricultural stocks related to foreign food assistance programs.
The Commodity Credit Corporation is managed by the USDA Secretary and a seven-member board of directors appointed by the president, all of whom are USDA officials. It has an authorized capital base of $100 million and the authority to borrow up to $30 billion at any one time from the U.S. Treasury, private lending agencies, and others. The CCC may issue bonds and other financial obligations to support its activities, all of which are subject to approval by the U.S. Treasury Secretary, though such oversight is rarely exercised. The USDA's Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services serves as the president of the CCC. The Administrator of the the Farm Service Agency serves as its executive director.
U.S. agricultural subsidies were reduced with the passage of the 1996 Farm Bill, which instituted a cap and fixed but declining production flexibility contract payments made by the CCC to producers of wheat, feed grains, cotton, and rice in order to compensate them for the difference between negotiated target and more volatile market prices for agricultural commodities. The U.S. Farm Bill of 1996 expanded the CCC's purpose to include conservation and funding conservation programs.
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