NASDA NEWS: State agriculture officials underscore COVID-19 recovery in updated appropriations request

ARLINGTON, VA–Today, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) sent a renewed FY 2021 funding request to the U.S. Committee on Appropriations encouraging members of Congress to support our food system and rural America through funding for state departments of agriculture and federal programs critical to food production and COVID-19 recovery.

“The impact of investing in state departments of agriculture extends far beyond what one-time relief payments can provide and ensures whole communities are sustained,” NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn said. “A combined approach to funding both state agriculture departments and federal programs ensures NASDA members have access to a range of resources to effectively respond to the particular needs of producers in their states.”

Federal programs NASDA prioritized for appropriators include Food Safety Modernization Act implementation, the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network and the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.

“These programs are essential to food production in a typical year, and now, NASDA members are depending on them even more to protect the agricultural workforce and keep our food safe.”

NASDA recommendations for FY2021 funding include:
•   $52 million – FSMA: Produce, Animal Food, Produce Safety Alliance, Food Safety Outreach Program
•   $10 million, full funding – Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network
•   $30 million, full funding – National Animal Health Laboratory Network
•   $37 million – State and Tribal Assistance Grants

Glenn expressed the everyday value of each program along with their specific contributions to our national food security during the pandemic throughout the letter.

Serving as both local leaders and co-regulators with the federal government, NASDA members are uniquely positioned to help farmers and rural communities heal from COVID-19 impacts. Despite this, many state departments of agriculture have yet to receive dedicated funding for COVID-19 aid. NASDA members are leveraging local partnerships to stock foodbanks, helping individual farmers access federal aid, and re-working local food supply chains to keep workers safe and our food supply moving.

“Existing resources to fight the spread of COVID-19, protect workers and the food supply chain will dry up without financial support from Congress,” Glenn said.

In the letter, Glenn noted 60 percent of rural Americans live in areas with shortages of mental health professionals—the very same communities that grow and raise most of our food. Regarding NAHLN funding, Glenn shared that NASDA members regularly serve as “the first line of defense against animal disease outbreaks and rely on NALHN labs,” however in the current moment, lab resources are providing additional support for COVID-19 testing, stretching their capacity to respond to potential animal disease outbreaks like African Swine Fever.

Glenn concluded by thanking the appropriations committee for its continued investments in the nation’s agricultural policy priorities and COVID-19 economic relief efforts.

NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. NASDA grows and enhances American agriculture through policy, partnerships and public engagement. Learn more about NASDA at http://www.nasda.org.

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.