Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says American agriculture needs to build on the positive momentum of 2014. For the year ahead Vilsack says the relationship between the new GOP led congress and the Obama Administration on trade, transportation, budget and regulatory issues will set the pace for the industry. Vilsack says USDA continues to work toward implementation of new farm policy including a definition of those actively engaged in farming. Nutrition is on the agenda for the new year with a scope ranging from school lunches to new dietary guidelines for the nation from the USDA.
New innovations in seed breeding and biotechnology hold promise of helping members of the American Seed Trade Association to continue their goal of providing high quality seed to their customers. However, consumer acceptance and regulatory approval of new seed traits proves to be a continuing challenge for the seed industry. Andy LaVigne, President and CEO of the ASTA says they're introducing an educational campaign to help farmers, consumers and government agencies understand what seed companies are doing to bring new varieties to the market place. LaVigne ASTA's goal is to have a regulatory structure that is clear and transparent for the seed industry.
Following months of secret talks between the two countries, President Obama is using executive power to re-establishing diplomatic relations and easing economic and travel restrictions with Cuba. While he cannot unilaterally end the nation's economic embargo without congressional action, the president's move has been welcomed by many agriculture groups and some legislators. John Kavulich, Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council believes the key to additional commerce between the two nation's lies in credit and acceptance by both governments.
The push for agriculture productivity and sustainability has brought rapid innovation for farm machines in the US and around the globe. While global food, fiber and fuel demand promise opportunity for machinery manufacturers, the agriculture equipment industry faces real challenges from a global economic downturn, higher emission standards, uncertain U.S. tax policy and a paradigm shift in net farm income from lower commodity prices. Charlie O'Brien, Senior Vice President for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers says technology in the coming generations of farm machinery will lead to a more rapid turnover of equipment sales as producers strive to maximize both efficiency and production.
Charlie OBrien, Sr VP-Association of Equipment Manufacturers
US Senator Saxby Chambliss is returning to his home in Georgia after two decades of service in Washington. A strong advocate for rural America and agriculture, Chambliss believes challenges will come in the 114th congress to risk management tools approved in the new farm law. Chambliss says urban representation on the agriculture committees and budget constraints will make approving new farm policy even more difficult in the years to come. As a member of the 'Gang of Six', Chambliss says there will be consequences if elected leaders don't address some very difficult fiscal decisions.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas persevered with agriculture groups and congressional leaders to bring a new farm bill to law. In the 114th Congress, Lucas says he'll be diligent to protect funding for the risk management tools he sees essential for the nation's farmers and ranchers. Lucas favors Trade Promotion Authority for the administration and supports incoming committee chairman Congressman Mike Conaway's plans for hearings on nutrition and other aspects of farm policy.