Panel: Farmers worry about climate policy, need immigration reform
Four national farm group leaders got together online for a discussion of “Hot Topics in Food and Agriculture” this morning at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum. Clockwise, from top left: National Farmers Union President Rob Larew, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, U.S. Dairy Export Council CEO Krysta Harden, and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President and CEO Chuck Conner.
A panel of farm leaders said that farmers are worried about climate policies that are developing in congress and the Biden administration, and that they need immigration reform to assure them of a workforce.
On an early morning panel at the USDA’s online Agricultural Outlook Forum, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said that his members fear that money will be taken from the Title I basic farm subsidies programs for climate-related programs. They also wonder what programs that are called science-based and voluntary will really be like, he said.
Duvall said his members have questioned why Farm Bureau has gotten involved in the climate issues and that he has told his members the policies will be developed and Farm Bureau needs to be at the table.
Duvall also called farm labor the No. 1 issue in holding back farm expansion. Farmers’ children can’t return to the farm after they get an education if they won’t have a labor force, Duvall said.
Chuck Conner of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives said he hopes this year might be the year that immigration reform can make it through both houses of Congress.
Conner noted that a farm labor immigration bill passed the Senate in 2013 and the House in 2019, but that so far it has proved impossible to get a bill through both houses of Congress.
National Farmers Union President Rob Larew made a big pitch for publicly funded agricultural research. He noted that groups always talk about the importance of research during the farm bill debate, but that when the bill gets written research doesn’t end up with as much money as is needed.
Krysta Harden, CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, said that farm group leaders often say they do not know women, Black, Hispanic and Native American candidates for jobs, but says she has a list that she will provide to any agriculture official interested in making an organization’s staff more diverse.
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