An annual gathering of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture produced language the state leaders hope will shape trade, climate, and food policies for the coming year.

The meeting, held last week in Albuquerque, N.M., was an "action-packed week," NASDA CEO Barb Glenn said, and the group's "top priority was to pass sound food and ag policy" the organization can act upon in Washington for the next year. 

NASDA adopted new climate resiliency policy, which encourages stakeholders to develop incentive-based programs and pursue research that helps agriculture adapt to the effects of a changing climate. A new partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund, announced at the meeting, focuses on innovative financing for climate programs and conservation programs, including crop insurance discounts and transferable tax credits, to incentivize conservation adoption.

Max Moncaster, associate director of public policy and NASDA staff lead on the Natural Resources and Environment Committee, said, “It’s something that our states are really taking a lead on as they are trying to find new ways to finance those programs and give farmers a new source of revenue stream from conservation practices.” 

Like many other ag organizations, the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement was also top of mind. The Marketing and International Trade Committee voted to pass an action item that calls on Congress to approve the USMCA pact this year. 

“I am really hopeful there is some space this fall, I think there is a landing zone and it would be a big boom to farm country and the rest of the country as well,” said Moncaster.

The meeting also featured a reorganization within NASDA that would tweak how the organization approaches some of the nuances of food policy.

The Board of Directors voted to rename its Food Regulation Committee as the Food Systems and Nutrition Committee. California Secretary of Food and Ag Karen Ross, the incoming chair of the committee, said in an interview with Agri-Pulse that this upcoming year she looks forward to “continuing the really great relationship” with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which awarded a Cooperative Agreement to NASDA to continue implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

“We had a lot of dialogue continuous around the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act," Ross said, "but we all know food waste is something that is a big topic across the country and globally and so we are going to be engaged in that,” topic this upcoming year.

NASDA adopted a new policy on food waste following the action of NASDA’s “Pledge to end Food Waste” which was a collaborative effort lead by the EPA, FDA and USDA. State Ag officials will work to find solutions that address food waste by emphasizing the need to preserve natural resources, reduce agricultural inputs and continue to feed everyone.

The conference ended with Doug Goehring, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner, being elected to serve as NASDA’s 2019-20 president and will host the 2020 NASDA Annual Meeting next year in North Dakota.

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