Leaders of the nation's farm organizations met with the Biden transition team Friday to discuss a host of ag issues and offer priorities for the incoming administration to address.
"As part of a continuing dialogue around the needs of farmers and rural communities, several agricultural leaders met today with leaders from President-Elect Biden’s USDA transition team," the group said Friday in a statement. "We appreciate the transition team’s interest in hearing from farm and agricultural organizations as they work to build a foundation for agriculture within the Biden Administration."
The CEO Council shared a white paper of priorities with the Biden campaign this summer. Its top three priorities included COVID testing and vaccinations for processing/supply chain workers; "sustained, well-funded, effective and predictable" language in the upcoming farm bill; and ratifying trade agreements with new and existing markets.
"We strongly encouraged the team to fill all positions, including the under secretaries and deputy under secretaries," said Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers. "We also want the liaison positions for agriculture filled, such as the assistant to the president and the liaison to the Environmental Protection Agency."
The group also discussed the potential need for more aid to U.S. producers if the coronavirus pandemic — and its impact on the economy — lingers.
“Unless we see some maintaining of the commodity prices and some changes that we didn’t see this year because of COVID, there will need to be some assistance there,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall told Agri-Pulse.
The Department of Agriculture has paid out $10.4 billion to 651,537 applications in the first round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program as of Nov. 29. For the second round, 703,849 applications received $11.1 billion in payments.
Carbon sequestration payments to farmers is something said to be on the table for the incoming Biden administration as a path to address emissions reduction. Duvall said any potential program should be a market-based system and “definitely” has to be voluntary.
“(Producers) are more than willing to participate in any practice that has sound science behind it that’s going to accomplish something to help make their farm more sustainable,” Duvall said.
Duvall did not speculate on who Biden should pick for Secretary of Agriculture, but noted the person should have on-farm experience.
“It just brings a different perspective when you’ve actually been out on the farm and you’ve done it yourself and you know more about what farmers are going through,” Duvall stated.
If the person does not have that experience, Duvall said they should at least have a deep knowledge of agricultural products and practices farmers deal with each day.
While most farm groups are staying away from picking a favorite, that is not the case for other interest groups, as Agri-Pulse reported earlier this week.
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