As the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were felt, NASDA continued to unify and elevate states’ voices on the highest profile and most impactful agricultural and food policy issues. The pandemic posed many challenges to the agricultural industry, and NASDA continued work to adjust the U.S. food supply system to meet the changing needs of Americans. NASDA placed emphasis on achieving the policy priorities identified in 2021 to empower NASDA members to best meet states’ needs. The policy priorities were food systems and food safety, infrastructure and capacity, climate resiliency, international trade and workforce development.
NASDA continued to work towards climate smart agricultural solutions through policy engagement on a variety of issues including soil health, carbon sequestration, and research. NASDA, a founding member of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, supported the Growing Climate Solutions Act which passed the Senate. NASDA continues to work with USDA and other groups on climate smart agriculture and forestry, advocating for voluntary, incentive- and science-based climate and conservation programs.
Food Systems and Food Safety
NASDA engaged with FDA on its agricultural water proposed rule and other areas of the Food Safety Modernization Act to ensure the continued safety of our nation’s food supply. Additionally, NASDA worked with FDA, USDA and other federal partners on key issues such as Specialty Crop Block Grants and funds for expanding federal meat and poultry processing facility grants to state inspected meat processing facilities to invest in local and regional food systems in response to supply chain vulnerabilities revealed by COVID-19. NASDA continues to work with federal partners to help farmers access stable, reliable and legal labor needed to ensure crops reach grocery store shelves.
Infrastructure and Capacity
NASDA advocated for funding for roads, rural broadband, and fire assistance programs, which were included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law November 2021. NASDA continues to work closely with federal agencies as they implement the act. Rural broadband is a top priority. NASDA supports the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program, which aims to expand high-speed internet access by giving states funding for planning, infrastructure deployment, and adoption programs. NASDA also endorsed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021. This bipartisan bill was designed to support the growth and development of U.S. exports and promote more fair and reciprocal trade in the common carriage of goods by water in the foreign commerce of the United States.
In 2021, NASDA engaged with the White House, USDA, USTR and other federal entities to pursue new opportunities for free and fair trade of agricultural products, while enforcing existing free trade agreements, including the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. At the 30th annual meeting of the Tri-National Agricultural Accord, U.S. and Mexican state agricultural officials established a work group to promote science-based regulation of agricultural products for trade between the countries. NASDA continued work with Canada and Mexico to strengthen agriculture and trade across North America.
NASDA engaged with the White House, Congress and industry partners on tackling issues related to immigration and the agricultural workforce. Working with our federal partners, NASDA continued working toward reformation of labor and immigration laws, advocating for the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which was passed by the House. This bill would make year-round H-2A visas available. NASDA continues to work with federal partners to help farmers access stable, reliable and legal labor needed to ensure crops reach grocery store shelves. NASDA also worked toward strengthening the agricultural workforce through recommendations including redefining agricultural employment, engaging youth in agriculture, developing work-based training and encouraging agency collaborations.