NASDA says states need more say in fed farm policy

By Daniel Enoch

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LINCOLN, Neb., Sept. 22, 2016 - The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) opened its 2016 annual meeting today by calling for the federal government to allow the states to play a greater role in policymaking in the next administration.

NASDA's board of directors unanimously approved the group's “Call to Action to 2020: Advancing Agriculture through Enhanced Partnerships,” underscoring the importance of what NASDA President Greg Ibach called “cooperative federalism.”  

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Ibach, who is also Nebraska's Director of Agriculture, said the Call to Action was drafted after an “escalation” of what he said were “hostile” rulemaking and policy proposals by federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency's “Waters of the U.S.” rule and Labor Department regulations governing pesticide applicators. In a briefing for reporters prior to the initiative's adoption, Ibach said in some cases rules were drafted with little or no input from the states, or suggestions made by NASDA during comment periods were ignored.

“As we look ahead to a new president, a new administration, a new Congress, and debate on a new farm bill, effective partnerships between states and federal government are needed now more than ever,” Ibach said in a release. “States have a unique perspective that is closer to producers and can offer solutions that help ensure agriculture's economic stability while guaranteeing safe and accessible food.” 

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Meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska, and celebrating NASDA's 100th anniversary, the group's members continued their discussions on the upcoming 2018 farm bill, focusing on the importance of a viable safety net for farmers and ranchers, as well as the challenges and opportunities the legislation can address.  

“There are real challenges in the farm economy, but also important opportunities at home and abroad for U.S. producers,” said Ibach. “As both co-regulators of and promoters of agriculture in our states, we look forward to working with Congress to craft a farm bill that works for producers across the country and helps agriculture advance.” 

Among the speakers at Thursday's opening plenary session were American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, and Ronnie Green, chancellor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Duvall told the state officials that the different components of the ag sector needed to join together to protect the farm bill safety net that is under attack from the congressional Freedom Caucus and the Heritage Foundation, while Green said more funds are needed for research if agriculture is going to be able to feed a growing world population.

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