President Joe Biden assured the American Farm Bureau Federation that his administration is addressing farmers' concerns about rising production costs and supply chain disruptions, while Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said China would be pushed to fulfill its purchasing commitments under the "phase one" trade agreement.
Biden spoke to AFBF's annual meeting Monday in Atlanta via a recorded message lasting just shy of three minutes.
“You deserve: A. Affordable seed and other inputs; B. Markets that allow you get a fair price for your livestock and other products; C. Agricultural exports service, timely service, to get your goods around the world; D. The right to repair the equipment you own either yourself or at an independent shop,” Biden said.
Biden also underscored the administration’s plan to spend $1 billion to expand the nation’s meat processing capacity, and he hailed bipartisan legislation aimed at bringing better price discovery to the cattle industry.
“This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats, red states or blue states, it’s about making sure that your contributions are recognized and your challenges are addressed.
Former President Donald Trump spoke to AFBF three years in a row, starting in 2018. The Biden address was the first live or recorded appearance by a Democratic president dating back to at least the 1970s, according to AFBF records. Biden was inaugurated after the event took place in January 2021.
Vilsack followed up the president’s comments with an address to Farm Bureau members that expanded on the administration’s ag policy priorities, namely trade enforcement and China’s adherence to the "phase one" trade deal negotiated by the Trump administration.
That pact contained purchase commitments, which expired at the end of 2021, as well as broader market reforms. Vilsack said China is “about $16 billion light” on the commitments, something he said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai would be certain to bring up in dialogue with her counterparts.
“Making up that $16 billion deficit over the course of the next several years and also working on those sanitary and phytosanitary barriers that still exist in the Chinese relationship that they agreed to remove … All of these steps China can take — and needs to take — to live up to this ‘phase one’ agreement are important and we’re going to continue to press China on the need for complete enforcement and complete implementation,” he said.
Vilsack told AFBF members of a USDA announcement Monday that seeks to double the nation’s cover crop acreage.
That plan was announced by way of a partnership with Farmers For Soil Health, an initiative of the United Soybean Board, National Corn Growers Association and National Pork Board, as well as with the National Association of Conservation Districts, Soil Health Institute, and The Sustainability Consortium. The groups will work with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to see about 30 million acres of cover crops by 2030.
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“It’s an opportunity for us to use our collective resources, our innovative solutions, and USDA resources to expand significantly the opportunity for cover crops,” he said.
Last year, Vilsack announced a $3 billion fund for climate-smart pilot projects to receive backing from USDA. On Monday, Vilsack said USDA is “on the cusp of providing significant help” to some climate-smart ag efforts.
“Markets in both the U.S. and around the world are continuing to demand more climate-smart commodities,” he said. “We know that it’s important to establish a partnership in this effort. This is not something which is top-down, this is really a bottom-up effort.”
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