Kron: all eyes are on Supreme Court cases that could impact agriculture

The president of Indiana Farm Bureau says two cases being considered by the Supreme Court could have major ramifications on the ag industry.

Indiana Farm Bureau’s Randy Kron tells Brownfield, “to have a case in front of the Supreme Court that could impact agriculture—there are very few of those and to have two (cases) is precedent setting.”  

The industry is closely watching Proposition 12, which would prohibit the sale of pork, eggs, and veal that’s not produced according to the state’s standards.

Kron says it could have a far-reaching impact.  

“It’s an interstate commerce issue of how one state can mandate (how animals are raised in other states). It would add costs for producers and could be challenging for smaller family farms,” he says. “If you’re a grain farmer you might say, ‘this doesn’t impact me, I’m not going to worry about it.’ California has already said it wants to eliminate internal combustion engines. What if next year the state says it wants all the corn in corn flakes to be grown on farms that run electric tractors. It will have ramifications. All of the sudden, you could have 50 different standards of what needs to be grown or how you grow it to be able to be sold in each state. We’re supposed to have an answer in March, and we’ll see what happens.”

He says the industry has already shown that voluntary, incentive-based programs work better than mandates.

“Farmers are innovative. If you give them an incentive, they’ll deliver on it. Conservation practices are an example. Whether it’s cover crops, conservation practices, or non-GMO soybeans and corn—These are often at a premium price so consumers pay a little more for something special,” he says. “What we must watch out for is that these new standards don’t become the base price which makes the cost of production go up and farmers lose margin. We’ll have to watch that moving forward. In the farm bill we’ll be watching cross-compliance and making sure that conservation practices are voluntary and not tied to crop insurance. The carrot works a lot better than the stick.”

Kron says the Supreme Court is also considering a case that will inform how the EPA identifies Waters of the U.S. or WOTUS under the Clean Water Act.  

“Every time an administration changes, we get a different definition of what is Waters of the US. We need some clarity and consistency,” he says. “…It’s about jurisdiction of EPA and what it can control. On farms we could be talking about nitrogen use, phosphorous use, or even herbicides and what you get to use and when you can spray it. This case could have major ramifications moving forward of how we farm. We need clarity, we need to know what the rules are, and they can’t change every time we change administrations.”

The bottom line, he says, is that farmers need certainty.

Audio: Randy Kron

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