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Todd Van Hoose

The Political Outlook for Rural Communities and Agriculture

By Todd Van Hoose, President and CEO, Farm Credit Council

With a new Congress and Administration up and running, 2021 brings many opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers and the rural communities where they live.

Historically (and fortunately), agriculture has enjoyed bipartisan support on a wide variety of issues in the U.S. Congress. That will be more important than ever in 2021. The U.S. Senate is evenly divided – with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking any tie votes – and the U.S. House of Representatives is controlled by Democrats, but with one of the smallest majorities in modern history.

As a result, we may need your help on important legislative priorities. If the opportunity presents itself, please raise your voice and advocate for farmers, ranchers and rural communities. Your messages to your members of Congress make a difference. Take a moment and join our grassroots program. Visit https://farmcredit.com/takeaction and enter your name. We’ll follow up when we need your voices to tell Congress to support agriculture.

So, what can we expect?

USDA

Tom Vilsack has returned as Secretary of Agriculture. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he served in the same position for all eight years of President Obama’s administration. His support from within the agriculture industry is strong – and for good reason. He shares a deep understanding and appreciation for ag and rural America.

Thanks to his prior service, he has hit the ground running at USDA. Farm Credit looks forward to working with Secretary Vilsack to strengthen the farm safety net and other programs important to farmers and ranchers.

Climate Change

President Biden has named battling the COVID-19 pandemic as job #1. Once Congress passes the latest relief package, we expect attention to turn to climate change. It was an issue on which President Biden and many Democrats campaigned.

And with 22 storms each costing our economy more than $1 billion in 2020, it’s difficult to disagree that the climate is changing.

President Biden has pledged to tackle the issue from a variety of fronts, and that includes agriculture. Secretary Vilsack has noted that agriculture policy might be the president’s best tool to take quick steps toward combating climate change, including new incentives for producers to sequester carbon and implement climate-smartsustainable farm practices.

While it remains unclear how much Secretary Vilsack can initiate versus what will require action by Congress, we are watching this closely. And the Farm Credit Council has joined the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance to participate in the conversation. This coalition brings together ag, rural and environmental interests for an open discussion – and education effort – about what farmers and ranchers have contributed already and how they can play a role moving forward.

After all, we all know farmers and ranchers have been strong stewards of the land for generations. From cover crops and conservation tillage to nutrient optimization and crop rotation, or for updated equipment with precision technology necessary for these farming practices, Farm Credit supports farmers as they implement these climate-smart technologies.

Our challenge: share these stories with lawmakers and the media.

At Farm Credit, we let the voices of America’s farmers educate and influence lawmakers and their staff in Washington, D.C. It’s those stories that make a difference.

Farm Credit Midsouth is leading the way in helping us share your stories in Washington. Your “Member Minutes” profiles highlight real Midsouth customers talking about their farm operations and the challenges and opportunities they face. If you have a story to share, please let your loan officer or others at Farm Credit Midsouth know. The more voices and stories, the better chance we have.

And thankfully, we’re not alone. Our efforts join those of many other farm groups, all working together, to help policymakers understand what’s happening on our farms and ranches every day.

The Farm Credit Council is the national trade association representing Farm Credit institutions before Congress, the Executive Branch and others. The Council provides the mechanism for member grassroots involvement in the development of positions and policies with respect to federal legislation and government actions that impact Farm Credit.

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