Industry organizations have presented sector priorities to the presidential transition team
By Diego Flammini
The U.S. ag industry is communicating with President-elect Biden and his administration about what items should be addressed soon after the Jan. 20, 2021 inauguration.
The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), for example, sent a letter to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Dec. 15 outlining which issues in the wheat sector they believe require attention.
One domestic issue the organization would like addressed is staffing at United States Department of Agriculture offices.
Farmers don’t have access to support personnel at local and state offices.
The National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), for example, has filled 2,943 employee vacancies in fiscal year 2020, Kevin Norton, acting chief of the NRCS, told the House Agricultural Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry on Oct. 1.
But that figure is still short of the necessary number of employees needed to provide farmers the service they require, NAWG said.
“We would urge the USDA to act diligently to fill these vacancies with qualified candidates in a timely manner, and to continue the customer-service focus of USDA at both the state/local and national levels,” the letter reads.
On an international level, NAWG wants the Biden administration to engage with the European Union (EU) on tariffs.
On Nov. 10, the EU put 25 percent tariffs on non-durum wheat as part of the Airbus-Boeing dispute.
These levies are costing U.S. farmers “400,000 metric tons in sales per year – predominantly in Hard Red Spring wheat grown in the upper Midwest,” the letter says. “We urge your Administration to quickly resolve this dispute.”
The Ag CEO Council also provided issues it would like to see addressed in the new year.
The organization, made up of more than 20 national farm groups, presented a package to President-elect Biden’s and President Trump’s teams prior to the November election.
The council highlighted 10 priorities, including a COVID-19 vaccine, rural broadband, trade agreements and labor.
“The ten core issue areas we have identified in this brief are critically important to the future of American agriculture and the food security of our nation,” the document says.