March 6, 2023
AFBF president outlines challenges and opportunities to US House Agriculture Committee
American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) president Zippy Duvall has recently outlined before the US House Agriculture Committee the challenges facing US farmers and ranchers.
Duvall joined five other agriculture industry leaders in testifying and taking questions from lawmakers during the hearing titled "Uncertainty, Inflation, Regulations: Challenges for American Agriculture."
"There are certainly plenty of challenges for American agriculture," Duvall told the committee during his opening comments. "From losses experienced in the trade war with China to pandemic lockdowns and supply chain disruptions. Add to it the record-high supply costs, and you see how farmers and ranchers have faced unprecedented volatility in recent years.
"USDA's most recent Farm Sector Income Forecast sees a decrease in net farm income in 2023, down 15.9%. Adjusted for inflation, that's an 18% drop. The same report estimates farm and ranch production expenses will continue to increase – by US$18 billion. This follows a record increase of US$70 billion in 2022."
Duvall also highlighted regulatory hardships facing farmers, including restricted access to pesticides, the new Waters of the United States rule, a proposed Securities and Exchange Commission emissions reporting rule and shortcomings in the H-2A labor programme.
He also shared opportunities to strengthen farms through voluntary climate-smart programmes, increased meat processing competition and the passage of a unified farm bill.
"It is important that we understand how important the safety net is for agriculture so that we will have the food to be able to use in the safety net for the people that are not as fortunate as others during...periods of their lives," Duvall said when asked about keeping nutrition programmes in the food bill. "So, I think they go together well. It gives us a true picture of the food, where it's produced and where a lot of it's consumed and making sure that those people have access to good quality food."
On the importance of trade, President Duvall said: "Anytime the field in the arena of trade is leveled and we have access to those markets it helps our farmers and ranchers tremendously. We're always working to encourage trade across the world, and we just think there are some great opportunities, especially in the Asia Pacific areas."