The nation’s leading state agriculture officials say their focus on a new Farm Bill will be on the programs and services that enable farmers and ranchers to more efficiently produce and market their commodities and livestock.
Members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) recently visited Capitol Hill in Washington, to discuss their ideas about the new farm legislation with members of Congress.
“One of our major concerns is continued funding for state-federal cooperative programs, such as dairy inspection, meat and poultry inspection, plant export inspection and animal health programs,” said North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “These programs, conducted by the states with federal funds, are critical to delivering services that maintain the safety of our food supply, protect the health and welfare of animal agriculture and ensure our commodities can be exported.”
Goehring said the new Food Safety Modernization Act will likely put added responsibilities on state food inspection programs without any additional resources to implement the new provisions of the act.
NASDA members also voiced their support for USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and other trade development programs.
“Agriculture is one of the bright spots in the U.S. balance of trade and is vital to our nation’s security,” Goehring said. “Trade development programs, especially MAP, help U.S. producers, exporters and private companies conduct promotional activities for U.S. agricultural products in an increasingly competitive world market.”
Other NASDA priorities for the Farm Bill include:
• A robust and flexible specialty crop block grants program
• Full funding and enhanced coordination of invasive species programs
• Investment in locally-driven, flexible and efficient conservation programs
• Protection of investments in critical research
• A viable safety net for dairy farmers
NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association, representing elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of agriculture in all 50 states and four U.S. territories.