After decades of low prices and farm programs based on low prices, former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman predicted those days are over.
"That doesn't mean we'll have heaven on earth," he said, but it will offer stability to farmers as well as rural communities and businesses.
But that too will require new focus on other areas to offer the greatest bang for agriculture's buck, Glickman shared with rural development leaders as he keynoted the Senate Democrat Rural Summit April 25.
This will require attention beyond just the Title 1 commodity programs, but most notably on research, conservation and rural development where today too little is being spent in those areas. "It's really important to recognize investment capital determines how competitive we will be in rural America," Glickman said.
Not only will more money be needed, but an overhaul of the research system focusing more on competitive research. Currently only 10% of agricultural research is done this way which compared to the National Institute of Health and National Science Foundation that does close to 90% of its research through competitive research grants.
During an agricultural appropriations hearing April 16, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack also discussed the importance of increasing investment in agriculture research.
"Agriculture research has been flat-lined for far too long when other areas have been more aggressive. We need to play catch up there," Vilsack told congressional members during the hearing.
Glickman, who was ag secretary during the time when large amounts of land were taken out of production, recognizes that today's pressure to produce more on less land will require incentivizing production practices that also help conserve and protect natural resources on the farm.
Last year both the Senate and House farm bills called for an undersecretary for trade at the U.S. Department of Agriculture which Glickman said will be "critically important" for producers at the farm level and rural development as today many trade disputes result from non-tariff barriers. Glickman supports creating a position exclusively focused on agriculture trade because trade "will decide how significant of a future rural America is going to be," he said.
Policy is one of the most important issues facing farmers today, but often the most difficult to digest. Jacqui Fatka has a passion to decode the often difficult world of agricultural policy into terms understandable for today's ag players.
Fatka joined the Farm Progress team as E-Content Editor in August 2003 after graduating from Iowa State University. Prior to full-time employment with Farm Progress, she interned at Wallaces Farmer magazine, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley's press office and the Iowa Pork Producers Association and freelanced for National Hog Farmer. She also worked as a public relations consultant with Iowa Industries for the Future, an effort to bring together major players in the biorenewables industry.
Currently Fatka is a staff editor at a sister publication, Feedstuffs. For Farm Futures she regularly tells the story of ongoing agricultural policy changes. Her byline can also be found on management profiles.
Fatka grew up on a grain and livestock farm near Atlantic, Iowa. She currently lives in central Ohio with her husband Eric, and their three children - Josiah, Spencer and Avonell.
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