NCFC's Chuck Conner Says Congress Needs to Back American AgricultureFri, 06 May 2016 19:20:50 CDT
From delays in preempting individual state GMO labeling laws, to attempts at eliminating the crop insurance program, American agriculture is under attack in several ways in the U.S. Congress. Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, says Congress needs to decide if it is going to be a proponent of the country’s agriculture industry.
“Is the Congress of the United States going to be for the farmer and for this great food and agricultural system that we have built in America, or are they going to be against it?” he says. “If they’re for it, then they’re going to want to work diligently to have farm policy, have good trade policy and let those things move forward so that we can take advantage of this great and competitive industry.
“You know we’ve lost so many of our industries - agriculture is not one of those, thankfully. We’re a growing sector, we’re more efficient than ever, and they ought to promote that and not try and do things to hold back American agriculture.”
When it comes to preempting Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law that is set to go into effect July 1, 2016, Conner says most agricultural organizations are calling on Congress to prevent a patchwork of these state laws, which could wreak havoc on interstate commerce.
“The Vermont law is the law of the land in Vermont, but it’s having implications in all 50 states,” he says. “We need our Congress to step in here and put forth reasonable legislation that preempts Vermont and establishes the standards that other states would use then going forward.”
Conner also says the groundwork is already being laid for the next farm bill. He’s been involved in subcommittee hearings lately, as legislators start to get a feel for the farm and rural economy.
“The last farm bill was written during probably one of the most prosperous times that we’ve ever seen in American agriculture,” he says. “Those prosperous times are gone, and we’ve seen a complete turnaround the other direction. The next farm bill very likely will be written in a time of need rather than a time of plenty, and these hearings are going to point to a lot of that information.”
Ron Hays talked with Conner during the NAFB Washington Watch last month. Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear the full interview.
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