What is in this article?:
- Top wheat lobbyist says politics killing agriculture
- Common second point
- Biggest impact of politics
• Dana Peterson, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers, made it quite clear at a recent meeting of the North Carolina Wheat Growers Association that the political system in Washington is broken and farmers will have to pay a high price it it’s not fixed soon.
AGRICULTURE MUST be involved in politics to keep federal programs in place, says Wheat Lobbyist Dana Peterson
Common second point
If the elected official votes yes or no for most of these reasons, that’s a common second point of disconnect between them and their agricultural constituents.
“In October of 2010, the current Congress began hearings on annual appropriations, and it took until May of 2011 for our elected officials to decide how to spend our taxpayer money. Then the government had to raise the limit on how much money we can borrow just to pay our bills, she says.”
“In typical Washington bureaucratic style, the government responded to this challenge by forming a Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction.”
To summarize, it failed, Peterson says. “Agriculture took the challenge seriously and put forward a heart-felt proposal that would have cut budgets for agricultural spending and the new committee paid little attention. It took until November for the agriculture proposal to make it through Congress and until December to fully fund the government.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this process is broken. We elect a new Congress every two years, and it takes a year and a half to get a budget passed for one year of that two-year term. Something is going to have to change,” Peterson says.
Despite the setbacks in establishing a reasonable budget for agriculture, the industry had some successes with the current Congress.
“In October, President Obama signed three free-trade agreements that will help agriculture. A reason for that success was the unified, strong voice that came from various agriculture support groups. “We worked hard and we worked together, and it paid off for agriculture,” Peterson says.
The Colombia Free Trade Agreement has the most immediate impact on U.S. wheat growers, she says.
“Our primary competitor for the Colombian market is Canada, and they passed a free trade agreement earlier in 2011, giving them a marketing head-start. However, we are certain we can make up that ground and rebuild our Colombian markets,” Peterson says.
“The next trade related legislation we need to work on is the Trans Pacific Partnership. Japan and Canada are considering joining the partnership and that’s particularly important to U.S. wheat growers. Japan is the top buyer of U.S. Wheat. And, Canada is our leading competition for international wheat markets.”
Japan has put up some significant trade barriers to protect their domestic agriculture interests. If they join the partnership, they will have to bring domestic support levels down and make our products more competitive pricewise in Japanese markets.