The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture says while it wants to see a strong commodity title in the farm bill, it is focusing its efforts on ag research, cybersecurity and trade. 

Given the different types of agriculture, needs, and concerns in the organization, “We focus on things that, perhaps, are more uniform,” NASDA CEO Ted McKinney said on this week’s Agri-Pulse Newsmakers. 

NASDA members include the ag commissioners, secretaries, and directors of each of the 50 states – as well as Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

“We don't get so into the commodities, like the Title I, which is where a lot of the arguments can (arise),” he said, adding that NASDA will let the commodity groups take the lead on those issues. 

The organization would like to see more investments in agricultural research, an area where the U.S. is falling behind other nations. 

“We're now slipping again … into seventh and eighth in the world in our dedication of general funding to research.”

McKinney also said it can be “painful at times” to keep the nutrition and farm programs together in the farm bill but that “it's good that those stay together” and that Congress “must keep those together.”

On the nutrition side, his members are concerned about the amount of mandated funding going into school feeding programs.

“Pre-breakfast, breakfast, lunch, after school, weekends, summers … There’s support of the partial payment, free, or reduced program that we know so well because no one wants a child to go to school hungry or near hungry … but just turning it over and making it a mandate is a great concern.”

Farm policy consultant Ferd Hoefner and Invariant's Danielle Beck also joined this week’s show to offer their thoughts on climate and conservation-related policy in the next farm bill, which you can watch here.

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