By Zippy Duvall
President, American Farm Bureau Federation
This is an exciting week! Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was sworn into office on Tuesday. Agriculture finally has a new leader, and I know he is ready to go to work on reducing farmers’ regulatory burden and helping those struggling with depressed commodity prices.
Also, a diverse group of farmers and ranchers from across the country met this week with President Trump, Vice President Pence and Secretary Perdue at the White House. I was honored to join the group and help answer the president’s questions about agriculture issues.
The first issue we discussed with the president is agricultural labor and immigration. As one of the farmers said so eloquently, the farm labor shortage is one of the biggest challenges in terms of bringing the next generation to the farm. We were very pleased to hear the president say we can and will fix this problem. The second issue was regulatory reform. We must be able to have faith that regulations are actually needed, cost-effective and based on sound science, and that they are created through a transparent process with the regulated community’s concerns and input taken seriously. At our meeting, the president signed an Executive Order creating the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, directing agency heads, led by Secretary Perdue, to look for ways to reduce the regulatory burden and increase economic opportunity in rural areas. Third, we asked the president to protect the gains agriculture has made under existing trade agreements and work for even greater market access. The president promised that future trade deals would preserve our current markets and make agricultural trade even better. Finally, we discussed President Trump’s goal of improving America’s infrastructure. We asked him to focus on investments in agriculture—such as inland waterways, ag research, broadband, and growth in our production and use of renewable fuels, including biodiesel and ethanol, which the president said he supports.
At Farm Bureau, we can’t remember the last time a president had a broad roundtable discussion with a group of farmers. It truly was an honor to represent all of America’s farmers and ranchers at this historic meeting. We look forward to more opportunities to advance agriculture’s interests with the current administration.
Until next week…
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.