Last week during the 2021 annual meeting, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) outlined several priorities for the association moving forward. Food supply chain issues, interstate commerce, and workforce security were all points of discussion during the meeting. NASDA members adopted several action items and made amendments to certain policy positions held by the association.
NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn highlighted the disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges created within the food supply chain as underscoring the need for enhancing emergency food supply networks. Glenn noted that state departments of agriculture play a critical role in implementing federal programs. During the meeting, NASDA members adopted an action item supporting a more robust emergency food supply system.
The issue of workforce security was also discussed during the meeting, where members adopted a policy in support of amending the H-2A and H-2B visa programs. Challenges related to labor availability within the agriculture sector also plays an important part in the overall security of the food supply chain. Glenn explained that a year-round visa system would provide better opportunities for the workers. The potential of year-round H-2A and H-2B visas would also provide better labor stability within the agricultural industry.
NASDA members also voted to amend its policy in relation to interstate commerce. The association reiterated the importance of states’ ability to enact policies and regulations that suit their particular needs. However, the amended policy also details the critical nature of free-flowing interstate trade. The updated policy supports any development of state regulations being in line with the Commerce Clause of the U.S. constitution.
“State departments of agriculture are strongest when they can develop regulations and markets based on their state’s unique conditions,” Glenn said in a press release. “However, to ensure all our states’ agricultural industries thrive, individual states must not impede on each other’s access to interstate commerce.”