As advocates for agriculture’s prosperity, NASDA members have always sought ways to invest in our environment and protect the natural resources we depend on to grow our food. After a year of grueling natural disasters in 2019 and a hard look at the state of our climate, NASDA members acknowledged – we must do more. In early 2020, NASDA joined as a founding member of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance to pioneer a revolutionary approach to empowering U.S. agricultural producers to further invest in our environment.
Last week, along with FACA, NASDA shared its recommendations for agriculture to serve as a central component to our nation’s response to climate change and how state departments of agriculture specifically can provide solutions. NASDA and FACA agree, state departments of agriculture serve as ideal partners for leading policy development for the industry. If we are to see the dividends of invoking industry-shaping change, policies must be advised by trusted, non-partisan individuals with experience in farming, a deep understanding of environmental science and the ability to work with all levels of government.
In NASDA’s comments to USDA, NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn explained, state departments of agriculture are “uniquely positioned” to partner with USDA on new programs and initiatives, as NASDA members already serve as co-regulators with federal agencies on conservation, environmental protection, and the promotion of economic sustainability of agricultural producers.
NASDA members have a long history of demonstrating the strength of cooperative federalism and strong track record of being valued partners in their daily co-regulatory roles. For example, Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse helped his state’s farmers achieve more state and federal funding to plant cover crops, which positively impacts water quality in areas that flow to the state’s inland bays and the region’s Chesapeake Bay.
Cooperative federalism is a proven formula for success. USDA’s accomplishments report on Delaware’s cooperative program emphasizes, “Conservation applied on any acre delivers an environmental benefit, but when conservation is approached comprehensively, the results are greater.” It’s no time to deviate from what we know works when tackling the climate crisis. NASDA members stand ready to provide insights on work happening on the ground today, where gaps in research need to be filled, and where state as well as regional differences need to be acknowledged.
As the Biden Administration embarks on laying a new foundation for agriculture to grow its contributions to climate resiliency and environmental sustainability, NASDA invites USDA to partner with states. Together, we can ensure agriculture leads the way toward a healthy and resilient world.