NASDA’s winter policy meeting results in several calls to action

Members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture are calling for federal action on several critical issues affecting farmers and ranchers.

Senior Director of Public Policy RJ Karney tells Brownfield during their recent during their Winter Policy Conference state ag directors, secretaries, and commissioners voted for federal agencies to address ag labor shortages and challenges with the H-2A visa program.

“We hear consistently, whenever our state departments of ag members are talking with their farmers and ranchers across their states, agriculture workforce is the number one issue,” he says.

The organization wants international agency coordination between the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Labor, and Homeland Security to develop a long-term strategy for addressing labor challenges.  Members also are asking USDA to fund farmworker housing improvements and Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform for agriculture.

Karney says departments need increased funding and resources to respond to the potential presence of PFAS, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or forever chemicals in agriculture.

“NASDA supports federal funding for research to find mitigation strategies on the risk of PFAS contaminations, throughout the food supply chain,” he shares.

He says federal agencies need to expedite efforts to assist impacted farmers and ranchers, including creating a farmer indemnity program for contaminated land along with enhancing research, testing and data sharing.

States are also urging USDA and Congress to appropriately fund state meat inspection programs, including amending farm bill language to require USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to provide states with at least a full 50 percent match in funding for programs.

Additional action items include increasing solar development research and modernizing pet food labels.

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