Continued advancement in areas like conservation research and technology, which could help all farmers reduce water use — from those who farm organically to those who use biotechnology — while keeping up with worldwide food demand will play a big role in farm policy.
Fiscal reform is the third tool that is needed. Getting the federal budget in order, reducing the deficit and restarting our economy are all underpinnings of good farm policy. Agriculture has been the lead in proposing fiscal responsibility in crafting current farm bill legislation.
Of course, no farm bill is complete without talking about nutrition. Nutrition programs alone account for 78 percent of agricultural spending. These programs provide resources that allow individuals and families to go to the store and purchase food coming from America’s farms and ranches.
The last tool in the farm policy toolbox is expanded trade opportunities. Being competitive in the global marketplace is significant for America’s farmers and ranchers, as well as the nation’s economy. More than $141 billion worth of American agricultural goods are exported around the world, and U.S. farm exports accounted for more than 30 percent of agriculture earnings last year.
While we continue to bring our trade agreements closer to a true science-based process, there remains a lot of frustration in resolving disputes when countries use non-tariff trade barriers to prevent the flow of goods and services. Going forward, there needs to be an efficient process to review and determine the outcome of these trade disputes.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a crystal ball that looks into agriculture’s future. But one thing is certain: if farmers and ranchers are going to stay competitive with other countries, while meeting global food demand and continuing to contribute to our nation’s economy, farmers will need this entire box of tools to get the job done.