An active role in fighting climate change, favorable cabinet picks, or job stimulus package - what does the US feed sector want from the Biden administration?

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

Is Biden ready to chart a course for significant policy changes and will the AFIA be on board? © GettyImages/nikauforest
Is Biden ready to chart a course for significant policy changes and will the AFIA be on board? © GettyImages/nikauforest

Related tags: Biden, Trump, Climate change, covid-19, trade deals

As US President-elect Joe Biden prepares for the transition of power, we talk to Constance Cullman, president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), as to what the organisation is hoping for in terms of support for the feed sector, with the new administration likely to chart a course for significant policy changes.

“President-elect Joe Biden has said his first priority in office will be curbing the spread of COVID-19, which has affected the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans and devastated the national economy.

“We expect a national strategy could impact animal food manufacturing at the state and local levels and will be working with the administration and Congress to ensure any new business requirements are purposeful for improving the safety and health of the 944,000 essential workers serving in this industry. We will also be working with the administration to prioritize access to personal protective equipment and COVID-19 vaccines, once available, to essential industries like ours," ​she said, for openers.

Biden’s robust Build Back Better Plan looks to stimulate economic growth through job creation and investments in US infrastructure, from bridges to rural broadband, noted the AFIA lead.

“The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the need for broadband in many areas where our animal food manufacturing facilities are located, which will allow them to adapt their business practices to the ‘new normal,’ such as with the use of virtual inspections. We have been working in concert with our members through various coalitions calling on the need to boost rural broadband so this industry can stay competitive and connected.”

Tackling climate change

Biden continues to reinforce his commitment to solving climate change and moving the US toward a carbon-neutral strategy, continued Cullman.

“We expect this may mean the US will rejoin international coalitions aimed at curbing the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and are hopeful the administration will look to the US feed industry as a solution provider in this initiative.”

Cabinet picks

Does the AFIA have a wish-list in terms of appointments, under the Biden administration?

“While it is still too early to know many of President-elect Biden’s Cabinet picks, we are encouraged to hear many names of long-time agricultural proponents and AFIA members on his shortlist for various agencies.”

She said it is still too early to discuss the legislative changes likely to be ushered in under a new administration, but the AIFA lead flagged US feed regulatory priorities.

“As we are still waiting on the final election results to determine the composition of the Senate for the 117th​ Congress, we do expect some committee leadership changes to impact agriculture.

“The AFIA will focus its bipartisan legislative agenda on: advocating for economic relief to businesses and Americans hurt by the pandemic; supporting federal funding that will expedite the approval of new ingredients that could improve animal health and nutrition and mitigate the risks of animal diseases; and pursuing the reauthorization of Trade Promotion Authority, which expires on July 1.”

Trade developments

Cullman said that Biden has indicated “a desire to 'fix' broken relationships with the US’ trading partners by pursuing multilateral trade deals, as opposed to President Trump’s focus on bilateral trade agreements.”

The AFIA, she said, is working to ensure the US feed industry can stay competitive internationally and will urge the administration to pursue meaningful trade deals that are critical for future growth by breaking down trade barriers and expanding market access for our animal feed, ingredients and pet food products.

“The Trump administration laid the groundwork by beginning talks with the UK, EU and parts of Africa, and we will build on that positive momentum by working with the US Trade Representative and others on the Biden team to ensure our members’ needs are heard as these talks continue under a new administration.”

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