3 Seasons Greatly Impact Farming & Ag Businesses: Planting, Harvesting and Bill Making

IMG_0567Just hearing headlines like “Water lawsuit likely to change farming rules” and “New Senate Bill Proposes GE Labeling” is enough to cause any farmer or seed business owner to lose sleep at night due to concerns about consequences of regulations. Just think how much impact 175,000 bills, which are being filed across the nation this legislative session, could have on our livelihoods!

Serving as North Central Regional Vice President for American Seed Trade Association and as a member of the ASTA Legislative Committee has opened my eyes to the importance of consistency of state laws and regulations. Last week I provided a legislative update during the Iowa Seed Association’s annual convention. This morning I delivered a similar presentation to the Kansas Seed Industry Association, where I shared this staging statistic: The ASTA expects that our members will be actively involved in 150 to 175 bills that have direct impact on the seed industry this legislative session!

Some federal issues that ASTA is following closely include:

    • Waters of the U.S. – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps seek to redefine “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Their new definition expands CWA to ditches, intermittent streams and manmade canals. As a result, waters that have been adequately regulated, monitored and protected for years at the state level would become federalized. Farm Bureau is on record, stating the proposed rule will make it more difficult for farms to remain competitive and profitable. #DitchtheRule
    • Biotech Policy and Food Labeling Those who cause others to fear their food are also promoting food labeling legislation. Food terms like Organic and non-GMO are greatly misunderstood. Allowing 50 different state GMO-labeling laws is especially confusing and costly, so ASTA has joined a coalition headed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association to introduce federal legislation that will neutralize the need for a state-by-state approach. It promotes allowing the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to continue to set national standards.
    • Pollinators & Endangered Species Act – Practical solutions are needed to increase pollinator forage. These are complex challenges, requiring on cooperation between public and private entities to increase forage and habitat areas. Narrowly focusing on pesticides is not the solution.
    • Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) – Last year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a nearly three billion gallon reduction in production targets for the Renewable Fuels Standard. On November 21, the EPA announced that it would not finalize the 2014 levels for the RFS until 2015. There is no clear direction emanating from the EPA on which direction the agency will take.
    • SNAP Formerly known as “food stamps,” the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cost almost $80 billion last year – twice the amount it cost just five years ago! Page 2 of the FY2015 USDA Budget Summary shows that U.S. Farm and Commodity programs only receive 11% of Farm Bill funding. SNAP accounts for 80% of the Farm Bill.