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NASDA policy priorities include food systems, climate, and more

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture has identified its top policy priorities for 2021.

CEO Barb Glenn says uncertainty caused by the pandemic remains which is why the food system is “job number one.”  

“This has to do first and foremost with keeping our workers safe, but it also has to do with food distribution— identifying the food, distributing it to the hungry, and assuring that consumers are receiving the sustenance they need,” she says. “Providing that food to food banks and other charitable organizations became an immediate core competency of our members and they did that in partnerships.”

NASDA will urge lawmakers to approve investments in U.S. infrastructure, including transportation and broadband expansion.

“We need to support advancing our transportation systems and most notably we know we need to enhance broadband and digital connectivity because it’s critical to rural communities,” she says. “…We look at this as a core component of the holistic approach we need to enhance the viability and sustainability of our rural communities. We’re really fortunate Congress is leaning into this already and we’ll be working hard on Capitol Hill on this one.”

Climate is expected to be a top priority of the incoming administration and Glenn says climate resiliency is also a priority for NASDA.

“NASDA has been proud to be at the forefront of a focus on new policies for climate smart ag that will enhance farmer’s ability to preserve their land, soil, water, and air, which is what they’ve been doing for hundreds of years,” she says. “We think these climate smart practices are critical. They need to be voluntary and incentive-based in terms of markets, they need to be based on science, and we really need to promote productivity of agriculture through these practices.”

NASDA, along with several other national organizations, joined the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance that helped developed more than 40 policy recommendations for climate solutions.

Trade, food safety, and workforce development are also top of mind.

Glenn says it will be critical to support new trade agreements while working with federal partners to enforce the US Mexico Canada Agreement and the Phase One Agreement with China.  

NASDA will continue to advocate for full funding to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act while working with FDA and states to implement FSMA.

Glenn says workforce development is a top priority for the agriculture industry and is something each state department of agriculture can dive into. She says NADA believes that by investing in people and workforce development systems, including youth development programs and STEM activities, they can make the path to ag employment straightforward.

Glenn says the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture are uniquely positioned to address agricultural issues.

Audio: Barb Glenn

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