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National farm policy key topic at GFB Commodity Confernece


By: Georgia Farm Bureau
8/9/2017 2:09:28 PM


Georgia Farm Bureau's refinement of its organizational policy for 2018 started with the 2017 GFB Commodity Conference, held Aug. 3 at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center.

Members from all of GFB's Commodity Advisory Committees gathered and heard updates on national farm policy and research by the UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, then got down to business with committee meetings to consider changes to GFB policy.

"The diversity of our organization is reflected here today. We have members of all 20 of our commodity committees here today," Long said. "This meeting is one of our most important all year because it is where we begin our policy development process."

Speakers addressed the 2018 farm bill, national cotton policy, controlling the spread of avian influenza and USDA priorities under new Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

Bob Redding, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Redding Firm, a legislative consulting group that specializes in federal agricultural legislation, provided an update on the 2018 farm bill.

"The next two to three months will be a very important period. The House & Senate Ag Committee staff will do a lot of work in August and committee members will meet in September. If the House and Senate Ag Committees get legislation ready this fall, there may be a window to get it passed before they go home for Christmas," Redding said. "Moving a bill next year will be hard because it's an election year."

National Cotton Council (NCC) President & Chief Executive Dr. Gary Adams gave an overview of how the current farm bill impacts cotton growers and changes the cotton sector would like to see in the pending legislation.

"The National Cotton Council is making the point that in terms of returns to cost of production growers have a shortfall of about $100 an acre," Adams said.

He said the NCC is working to secure short-term economic assistance to bridge the gap until the next farm bill is in effect, which would help offset the effects of the current long-term slump in commodity prices. Such assistance would include obtaining a cost share or cottonseed program through appropriations legislation that would make cottonseed eligible for the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) programs under the 2014 farm bill and establish cottonseed as a covered commodity beginning with the 2018 crop.

"We're working to get cotton back into the Title 1 part of the farm bill and our possible options are tied to cotton fiber or cottonseed," Adams said.

As Congress develops the next farm bill, Adams said the NCC is seeking the same sort of support available to other crops, as well as a fully functioning marketing loan program that does not limit the movement of cotton in the market.

USDA Chief of Staff Heidi Green shared Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue's priorities for the USDA. Green said the USDA is working to address issues President Trump charged an Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to address.

Green said the USDA and other agencies are reviewing federal regulations to determine which ones may be rolled back or repealed to relieve regulatory burdens that may be stifling business. She said the USDA has identified 250 regulations that could be rolled back. Among the criteria the USDA is using to evaluate the effectiveness of a regulation are: 1) Does the regulation protect the public at a reasonable cost? 2) Does the regulation help manage risk? 3) Is there a hidden agenda behind the regulation 4) How does the regulation impact the ability of the U.S. to take the product around the world?

Green said the USDA is making progress on work to protect U.S. agriculture in trade deals.

For photos from the commodity conference visit Commodity Conference Speakers or Commodity Conference Researchers.


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