2018 will undoubtedly be another important year for agriculture, as a host of important NASDA priorities will be front and center in Washington, D.C. and as the administration continues to “settle in.” It’s hard to believe it has been one year since these sweeping changes to our leadership occurred, with more appointments and confirmations yet to come. We are pleased to see a number of now former NASDA Members in key leadership roles at the USDA. In 2018 we will continue to leverage our non-partisan voice to build consensus on policies and programs that advance American agriculture. Here are a few things we expect to accomplish in 2018.
1. Cooperative federalism goes viral.
If anything is an overarching element of NASDA’s policy engagement, cooperative federalism would be it. NASDA continues to advance a more robust role for states on federal policy making. States are more than just stakeholders, we are partners with the federal government. NASDA members are responsible for implementing their own state programs as well as many federal programs. With enhanced consultation and resources for the states, we can work together to solve a number of challenges facing agriculture—from food safety, environmental challenges and economic vitality.
2. The next Farm Bill passes, including NASDA’s priorities.
Our next Farm Bill must remain unified – securing a commitment to American agriculture and the critical food and nutritional assistance programs for those who need them the most.
2014 feels like yesterday but the next Farm Bill is quickly approaching. With the diversity of issues in the Farm Bill, NASDA Members identified seven priorities that are vitally important to agriculture producers and communities across the country. NASDA’s priorities focus on enhanced funding for invasive species programs, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, and the Market Access Program as well as robust funding for research, new tools for animal disease prevention, and investments in voluntary conservation programs. NASDA also calls for a Farm Bill that addresses the challenges producers will have complying with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Effective programs on these seven priorities will have a huge impact on producers of all sizes and production methods in every corner of every state in the country.
3. Save the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Negotiations to modernize NAFTA are high-stakes for North American agriculture. It is imperative that NAFTA is updated in a way that does not harm our agriculture and food processing industries. Since NAFTA came into effect, our industry has becoming increasingly more integrated with our Canadian and Mexican partners. This integration has positioned us to be the provider of the world’s most high quality and safe food. Withdrawal from NAFTA is not an option.
4. Implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act advances with continuous progress.
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation and funding for states continues to be a top priority for NASDA. This year we will continue to work with the administration and Congress to make sure there are adequate resources for FSMA implementation—especially for the state programs charged with implementing these new requirements. On Farm Readiness Review (OFRR) training, our approach to helping producers bring their farms up to speed in an educational manner, is in the final stages of development. We are scheduling training for state program participants between mid-January and May 2018 for all cooperating states. We anticipate most states will be able to offer OFRRs beginning in June, with a few states possibly starting earlier.
NASDA will continue to partner with the FDA to ensure successful implementation of this new preventive approach to food safety. The vehicles for this partnership come in the form of our two cooperative agreements with the FDA to ensure proper implementation of both the Produce Safety and Animal Feed rules and our coordination with the 43 state Produce Safety programs funded by FDA. "Educate before you regulate," has become a key message for NASDA, and we will continue to focus on food safety for years to come.