By Michael Behm, Senior Vice President

State agriculture commissioners and directors representing nearly 40 states convened in Washington, DC for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Winter Meeting to discuss a variety of state and federal policy issues facing farmers, ranchers and agribusiness.

While perhaps not attracting the same media attention as governors or legislators, the states’ chief agriculture officials play a critical role in sustaining America’s agribusiness.

The US agriculture industry is booming. Demand is up for agricultural products, commodity prices are near all-time highs and the value of US agricultural exports increased approximately 21% from 2010 to 2011. All of that said, the attending commissioners and directors acknowledged an equal number of challenges —a dwindling agricultural workforce and disappearing farmland, myriad regulatory challenges at the state and federal levels of government, shrinking federal subsidies and the ever-present danger of another economic downturn. Like the agriculture industry as a whole, NASDA’s members recognize…

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