Of the 155 state ballot measures decided in last week’s elections, California’s Proposition 12, which sets new animal confinement rules, could turn out to have the greatest national impact for both farmers and consumers.
The Heartland Summit last week highlighted a rural investment drought, with the 19-state Heartland region capturing just $3.8 billion in venture capital funding last year, out of the $74.1 billion national total.
Rural areas struggling with low commodity prices and a stalled farm bill are getting over $4 billion in new USDA grants and low-interest loans for new or upgraded water and sewer systems, electric power lines, and other essential infrastructure.
When House and Senate conferees meet today to hammer out a new farm bill, one urgent request comes from 306 organizations seeking $60 million a year in “permanent funding for the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP).”
Counties in heavily forested areas of the western United States are pleading with Congress to provide permanent funding for a program designed to partially compensate them for the sharp decline in timber sales from non-taxpaying national forests.
Prospects for U.S. farm exports can change suddenly and dramatically. Breaking into foreign markets takes decades of persistent hard work and hefty investments in building infrastructure, relationships and, ultimately, sales.