A report from Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Governmental Relations team.

Developing Farm Bureau Policy

Farm Bureau members from across the state gathered in Kearney for Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Policy Forum Thursday, Nov. 21. The forum allows County Farm Bureau representatives to gather and discuss key agriculture issues and the County Farm Bureau’s policy resolutions on those topics. Based on those discussions members of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s State Legislative Policy Committee are then responsible for determining which policy resolutions will be forwarded for consideration by delegates to Nebraska Farm Bureau’s annual meeting, Dec. 8-10.

USMCA Vote Pushed to 2020?

A House vote on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) could be pushed into 2020. Speaking to reporters this week House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said negotiations to bring the key trade deal to the floor are ongoing, but procedural steps required once a deal with the Trump administration is done could push a vote into the new year. Pelosi indicated that even if a deal was done this week, the timeline might be too tight for a turnaround for implementing legislation.

Food Companies’ Environmental Standards

The company famous for helping put the toll house morsel in your chocolate chip cookie sees a future where environmental standards could be built into food companies’ specifications when buying from suppliers. Patricia Stroup, global vice president and head of commodities for Nestle told attendees at the annual Sustainable Agriculture Summit in Indianapolis that she wasn’t sure when that might happen, but Nestle has already committed to specific goals for reducing the companies carbon footprint with a goal of no net emissions by 2050.

China Now Open to US Poultry Imports

This week, China announced it would resume imports of U.S. poultry and poultry products. China has banned U.S. poultry since January 2015. The USDA, along with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), has announced that the resumption of poultry exports to China could lead to sales of over $1 billion annually. No specific time has yet been given for China to begin purchasing U.S. poultry. The 2015 ban was put in place following an outbreak of avian influenza. The U.S. had exported over $500 million of poultry to China in 2013. Total exports of U.S. poultry and poultry products were over $4.3 billion in 2018.

FB Seeks Improvements to Ag Labor Bill

An ag labor-focused bill working its way through the House will need improvements to secure the support of Farm Bureau. The House Judiciary Committee held a markup to consider H.R. 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 this week. The bill advanced from committee on a 18-12 roll call vote along party lines. Agricultural labor is a strategic priority for American Farm Bureau. Following advancement from Committee, AFBF President Zippy Duval issued a statement pointing out the legislation falls short of a long-term solution to farm labor shortages, which constitute one of the most significant barriers to farm success in several regions of the country. Changes made to the legislation prior to introduction improve the ability of farmers to retain H-2A workers, take a small step toward protecting farmers from frivolous litigation, and add a study to examine whether the H-2A program affects U.S. farmers’ ability to compete with foreign ag imports. The key amendments needed would ensure a fair and competitive wage rate and limitations on the use of federal courts to solve workplace grievances.