The views presented in these blogs are those of the authors.
Published by The Hill on December 1, 2016. Reposted with Permission.
The food and agriculture system underpins the wellbeing of our families and our nation, so it’s crucial for our president-elect to make American agriculture a priority. AGree stands ready to work with President-elect Trump and his administration. We are proud of our history of transcending political parties and offer the recommendations below based on years of listening, building trust, and developing innovative approaches to address the challenges facing American agriculture.
These bipartisan recommendations are carefully crafted as an outgrowth of engaging more than 2,000 of the best minds in food and agriculture to identify key issues and opportunities. We invite the new administration to take advantage of our experience collaborating with both parties and facilitating respectful dialogue, which led to the following seven initiatives to improve the health of American families, the economy, farms, and our environment.
- Empowering farmers and ranchers on Working Landscapes. Regulations alone cannot ensure the landscape-level actions needed to manage water supplies, sustain soil health, and preserve natural habitat. New partnership models – led by farmers, ranchers, and landowners – are needed. We must adopt policies that encourage producer-led, watershed-scale efforts that involve the supply chain and demonstrate effectiveness and a measurable return on investment.
- Ensuring a stable workforce through Immigration Reform. Agriculture is hamstrung by an unreliable labor supply. We need thoughtful, measured consideration of both employer needs and worker conditions in agriculture. Immigration reform policies must consider agriculture’s unique circumstances, the importance of a strong domestic food supply, and mechanisms to ensure the fair and nondiscriminatory treatment of workers.
- Strengthening Crop Insurance and Conservation. We are working with partners dedicated to ensuring a strong and durable crop insurance program while advancing strategies that expand use of conservation practices. Supporting smart changes that will integrate data on soil, yield risk, and conservation practices will lead to an actuarially sound crop insurance program and improved productivity, profitability, and environmental performance.
- Improving productivity and environmental practices through Research & Innovation. Research drives innovation, which powers the economy. Strong leadership is needed to sharply focus food and agricultural research on critical challenges, from drought and weather volatility to obesity and water quality. There are efficiencies to be gained from smart investments that leverage private sector resources to hone in on the most pressing problems facing farmers, the supply chain, and communities.
- Empowering the Next Generation of ranchers and farmers to ensure a safe and affordable food supply. Inheritance taxes impede the transfer of farms and ranches to the next generation across rural America. New entrants also face enormous challenges. Our economy depends on a reliable food supply, so we must address land and equipment acquisition and regulatory barriers faced by new farmers and ranchers and provide training that enables them to produce affordable food profitably.
- Improving Americans’ health and reducing health costs through Food & Nutrition. Public policy must support the scaling of innovative efforts across the country to address hunger as well as improve health by more directly linking food and diet to disease treatment and prevention. There are significant health care cost savings possible if we adopt policies that encourage Americans to eat healthier diets.
- Responding to changing consumer demands through Local Food. Local food is a growing part of American agriculture and public policies can be balanced to better serve local and regional systems. Supporting local market development can contribute to local job creation, environmental sustainability, and improved nutrition, health, food access, and equity.
AGree is committed to finding solutions and we offer our support, as well as the collective wisdom of our Advisors and Co-Chairs, to members of the new administration and Congress. A new opportunity exists to spur transformative change in food and agriculture. We hope our leaders seize it and demonstrate that they are champions for food and agriculture.
To further discuss these important issues, we are hosting an interactive event on Wednesday, February 1, 2017, to showcase AGree’s platform for change and its policy work. The program is designed to engage partners, producers, and policymakers on the most pressing issues facing American food and agriculture. Details will be forthcoming.
Deborah Atwood is the Executive Director of AGree: Transforming Food & Ag Policy