National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Celebrates 100th Anniversary

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Conaway recognizes the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture on its 100th Anniversary

House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway submitted the following remarks for the Congressional Record recognizing the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture on its 100th Anniversary.

Remarks as prepared:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the 100th anniversary of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). NASDA is a non-profit, non-partisan organization which represents the commissioners, secretaries, and directors of agriculture from all fifty states and four U.S. territories. The State departments of agriculture have served not only the farmers and ranchers of America, but also American consumers for a significant portion of our nation’s history.CDFA LOGO

“NASDA is a highly effective association which serves to grow and enhance agriculture by forging partnerships and creating consensus to achieve sound policy outcomes between state departments of agriculture, the federal government, and stakeholders. These partnerships are apparent in the halls of almost every office building in the District of Columbia. I rely on the hard working men and woman in the Texas Department of Agriculture to provide me with perspectives on how federal policy is impacting boots on the ground agriculture. I’m sure my colleagues rely on their state department of agriculture in similar ways.

“NASDA is an active partner with the United States Department of Agriculture through a longstanding cooperative agreement to employ a nationwide network of enumerators in support of the mission of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The data collected through this partnership informs a broad spectrum of legislative and regulatory initiatives, including farm programs under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Agriculture which I have the honor to chair.

“NASDA and its members likewise play a critical role informing Congress and the executive branch regarding the operation of federal and state programs covering everything from animal and plant health, food safety and marketing, nutrition, and literally hundreds of other consumer services.

“NASDA exists to amplify the unique voice of all state departments of agriculture. NASDA Members are able to amplify their national voice by achieving consensus on otherwise contentious issues such as threatened and endangered species, agriculture labor, and water quality.

“Mr. Speaker, I join the members and stakeholders of NASDA in celebrating their 100th year of advocating for American agriculture. I wish NASDA many more years of public service to American agriculture at the critical nexus of state and federal policy.”

CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE UNDER SCRUTINY

HOUSE PANEL EXAMINES USE OF CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE

The United States House of Representatives Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research held a hearing on December 9, 2015, to discuss the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) use of the Census of Agriculture authority to acquire farmer’s personal financial information. The Census of Agriculture is conducted every five years and is widely considered to be an important tool in developing strong agricultural policy. The Census is used by economists; state, local, and federal policy-makers; financial analysts; and farmers themselves.

However, in January 2015, the Agriculture Committee received correspondence from farmers and ranchers concerned that the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) improperly used the Census of Agriculture authority to conduct a mandatory survey entitled Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL). The TOTAL survey is a combination of what was previously the Agricultural Economics and Land Ownership Survey (AELOS), which was traditionally conducted as a follow-on Census of Agriculture survey, and the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS III), which has been prior to this year conducted by the Economic Research Service as a voluntary, academic survey. Members of the committee primarily expressed concerns regarding the compulsory aspect of the expanded TOTAL survey, which inquired about all aspects of an operator’s personal financial portfolio as well as all aspects of farm related income and expenses.

“The most recent version of the TOTAL survey is extremely time-consuming, burdensome and over-broad in nature, and I’m concerned with the potentially negative effects this mandatory survey will have on farmers’ willingness to participate in the Census of Agriculture,” said subcommittee chair Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., Chairman of the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research.It cannot be overstated how important the information in the Ag Census is for developing strong agricultural policy, rural development, farmland assessment, and the practices of many other sectors that serve farmers and ranchers. It guides our decision-making process, helps us determine what, if any, changes must be made to better serve and provide for farmers and ranchers, and gives us the ability to run farm programs and implement the Farm Bill,” said Davis.

“Data and information gained from the Census of Agriculture is important to every sector of the agriculture industry,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway, “especially for lawmakers as we write and oversee the Farm Bill. However, the most recent version of the mandatory TOTAL survey is unnecessarily complex, intrusive and requires valuable time that farmers would otherwise spend operating their businesses. I hope today’s hearing shed light on the importance of quickly resolving this matter.”

Source: United States House of Representatives Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research