Directors of state ag departments gathered in Nebraska last week and are united in support of increased trade as a way of helping the U.S. farm economy to recover. Ted McKinney represented Indiana at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) meeting in Lincoln. He told HAT there was a good deal of concern about the state of the ag economy, “Everybody is seeing this tightness from low commodity prices. It has driven a lot of discussion and calls for more to be done to improve trade.”
He said there was bi-partisan support passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty, as a way of improving agricultural trade, “I have not talked to one director or secretary here that is not in support of TPP. Everyone here believes it is critical for both the short term and long term success of American agriculture.”
The organization also took a strong stand in calling for more state say in federal farm policy. NASDA’s board of directors unanimously approved the group’s “Call to Action to 2020: Advancing Agriculture through Enhanced Partnerships,” underscoring the importance of what NASDA President Greg Ibach called “cooperative federalism.” Ibach, who is also Nebraska’s Director of Agriculture, said the Call to Action was drafted after an “escalation” of what he said were “hostile” rulemaking and policy proposals by federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the U.S.” rule and Labor Department regulations governing pesticide applicators. In a briefing for reporters prior to the initiative’s adoption, Ibach said, in some cases, rules were drafted with little or no input from the states or suggestions made by NASDA during comment periods were ignored.
Other issues discussed included organic livestock standards, renewable energy, and pollinators, “We have got to lift up the whole pollinator issue, but it has to be done from a balanced point of view,” said McKinney. He added there are a number of factors impacting the loss of pollinators and not just chemicals. McKinney said there was also a good deal of discussion about the consolidation taking place in seed and crop input companies.