As we’ve previously reported, Indiana native Ted McKinney, who most recently served as USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, has accepted the position of CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. He will lead NASDA in amplifying the voice of state departments of agriculture in Washington, D.C., seeking policy solutions for our food system and expanding and deepening NASDA’s partnerships.
I caught up with McKinney at last weekend’s Purdue football game and asked him what the top issue is facing agriculture and NASDA. He couldn’t give just one.
“The whole business of climate change and what’s in the legislation, what’s in the funding package, how does that work? On one hand, we hear we’re going to pay farmers to be a great carbon sink with those wonderful soybeans, corn, cotton, sorghum, etc., and on the other hand, Waters of the U. S. is back. Which way is it going to go? So, that’s a big one.”
Labor continues to be an enormous issue for agriculture.
“I mean, look at the Rio Grande border. They’re coming across illegally. We want them legal. We want them to work on our farms, our dairy farms, our vineyards, our orchards.”
McKinney added that infrastructure remains a big deal for ag, as well as all the things leading up to the farm bill which are vast and numerous.
McKinney says his time as USDA Under Secretary should serve him well in his new role.
“I would say all the secretaries, directors, and commissioners, no matter what state or territory they’re from, they know their state pretty well. We’ve got domestic policy down pretty well. NASDA does do some international trade work with the provinces of Canada and the states of Mexico. It’s called the Tri-National Accord. We want to double down on that. I think we should have similar relationships at the state level to countries of Europe, to countries of Asia Pacific, maybe even China. I don’t want to get out ahead of my skis because I do think the board’s got to weigh in on this, but we’re having more threats coming from other parts of the world than we are our own country. With our clout, with our reputation, nonpartisan, very competent, very fair, maybe there’s something in there.”
McKinney was previously a member of NASDA when he held the position of Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.
Hear the full interview with McKinney from last weekend’s Purdue football game below.