Good Progress Being Made on Farm Bill Implementation, Says NCGA's Jon DoggettFri, 16 May 2014 04:39:44 CDT
With implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill now well underway, producers are beginning to see how it will affect them. Jon Doggett, vice president for public policy with the National Corn Growers Association recently spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays about several issues of importance. So far, he said, his organization has been pleased with the implementation of the bill.
“The USDA’s done a tremendous job to start implementation practically from the moment the President’s pen hit the paper. That was important. They were well prepared. They are reaching out. They are asking for input. They are asking for suggestions. They are asking for opinions. They are very, very engaged. And we think it’s going to be a good process.”
Doggett said he believes the education being done with farmers and county USDA personnel so that everyone can understand how to make the best choices given the options included in the new programs is very important. He is also impressed with the work that has been done with regard to crop insurance and the provisions addressing conservation.
On other issues, Doggett said his group is in favor of federal legislation covering the labeling of GMO crops rather than a patchwork of different regulations from each state.
“I don’t think there’s anybody who can take a look and see how having several dozen different labeling laws across the country will work for anybody. It won’t work for the consumer; they will be charged more money. There’s going to be less product variety available. It’s going to create a lot of problems.”
Doggett said that those who are proposing the state regulation of GMOs are not doing so for altruistic reasons.
“These are not being proposed by people who think GMOs are good, but these are being proposed by people who think GMOs are bad and so they’re against them.”
He said that efforts are being made by farmers and ranchers to reach out to consumers and provide more accurate information about modern farming practices, but producers do have to be careful.
“I don’t think that consumers want to be preached to. I don’t think they want to hear agriculture come and tell them something. I think they want to have a dialog.”
He said the Food Dialogs put on by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance have been very beneficial because both producers and consumers come away knowing more about each other.
“We learned that there are some things we thought they were very concerned about, but they’re not. And there were some things that they were concerned about that we said, ‘Hunh. We didn’t realize that.’”
Another issue of importance to corn growers is the foot-dragging going on inside the Beltway concerning the 2014 RFS standard. The EPA has proposed lowering the amount of ethanol required to be blended in with gasoline, but nothing has been made permanent yet. Doggett said the industry needs a decision, needs certainty, but he doesn’t see it forthcoming. He said he believes the decision will ultimately be made for political reasons in the White House.
Doggett said the uncertainty over the RFS has slowed the industry with regard to developing cellulosic ethanol technology.
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