The Food Security Act of 1985 authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue generic certificates in lieu of cash payments due program participants and merchants of agricultural products under provisions of several programs. The certificates can be used to acquire stocks held as collateral on Government loans or owned by the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). Certificates offer producers and merchants advantages in exchanging them for crops held under loan or owned by the CCC, and their use has freed-up stocks which might not have been marketed. While the costs of using certificates likely exceeded the costs of issuing those payments in cash during fiscal year 1987, costs for FY 1988 and FY 1989 are estimated to be about the same as had the payments been made in cash. As of March 31,1988, about $17.9 billion of certificates had been issued since April 1986. Total certificate redemptions as of May 31,1988, approached $17.1 billion. Approximately 72 percent of the exchanges have been for corn ($12.4 billion), 20 percent for wheat ($3.3 billion), and the remainder for various other commodities held under loan or owned by the CCC.