NASDA members uniquely positioned to address ag issues and opportunities

State ag directors, commissioners, and secretaries from across the nation are discussing ag and food policy issues at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Annual Meeting.

NASDA CEO Ted McKinney says “regional breakouts are occurring and we’re covering everything from how you measure electric vehicle charging stations to dues to all kinds of issues from Waters of the U.S. to EPA decisions and more. Everything you can imagine that would occur on a farm; we’ll cover in some sort of a policy discussion.”

He tells Brownfield state ag leaders are uniquely positioned to address issues impacting the industry.

“Because all of agriculture falls to these departments of ag, people want to know what the state department of ag are thinking and doubly so because our members still look through a farmer and rancher lens,” he says.

And, McKinney says there are opportunities for members despite those issues.

“There are so many opportunities – there’s climate change which embraces water quality and air quality and soil health and what you do to mitigate CO2. That applies and bleeds right into the livestock industry and what do we do to make sure animal welfare is right and that methane emissions are right. Then you get into the juggernaut that seems to be occurring with EPA where labels of crop protection products are being trimmed back or eliminated,” he says. “It’s endless and can get weary just because of the number of issues we’re facing, but there is a great attitude here and people are launching into it because they know their livelihoods depend on it because many of our directors, secretaries, and commissioners are farmers. And, if it’s not them personally, it’s the people that they consider their constituents.”

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed the NASDA group on Tuesday.

“We are thrilled that despite 3-5 competing things, Vilsack wanted to be here and spoke to the group,” McKinney says. “He is of course well known by so many of our members.” 

This year’s event saw record in-person and virtual attendance. NASDA President Richard Ball, commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, hosted the annual meeting in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Audio: Ted McKinney

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