American Pecan Federation Finds Its Voice on Capitol Hill - Lobbyist Bob Redding on Cracking the Hard Nuts of DC PoliticsWed, 21 Aug 2019 11:38:35 CDT
During the 2019 American Pecan Congress in Dallas, Texas this week, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays visited with Bob Redding, contract lobbyist for the National Pecan Federation in Washington, D.C. Redding serves as the first unified voice for the American pecan industry in our nation’s capital. According to him, as a non-program or Title 1 commodity, pecan growers have been on their own when it comes to fighting for legislative representation up until now. Catching the pecan industry up in those terms and engaging in the political process, Redding says, has kept him very busy.
“They’ve got a lot of issues, because they’ve never had a lot of issues addressed,” he remarked. “But, they’re growing and there’s a lot of energy. Participating in the political process is key, so we’ve got a new political action committee (PAC) and there is a learning curve here - but we’re working on it and we’re really excited about that.”
Since the pecan industry came together to organize its legislative efforts, several priority issues have been identified and grassroots policy is now being developed to address them. For instance, Redding says there is much work that could be done to improve the current tree loss crop insurance program, which he says currently is weak and ineffectual. However, the industry’s production insurance program is one example where current policy shines. More pressing issues, though, have commanded most of Redding’s time to ensure that pecan growers are included in recent USDA initiatives like the Market Facilitation Program (MFP).
“The first round, pecans participated by a small purchase program and also some export money - which is fine. But growers really didn’t feel like they were participating and so this last time, the National Pecan Federation for round two of the trade mitigation, we asked for MFP money and qualified for $146/acre,” Redding explained. “We’ve had a lot of trade issues because of the tariffs, but this will be very helpful to growers.”
Trade has remained a primary focus for Redding, as pecan growers have struggled in tandem with their many counterparts in the ag industry. Redding has joined other groups in pressuring Congress to pass the USMCA Trade Agreement, which he believes might potentially advance later this fall. He adds that the prospect of forging trade deals with both China and Japan are exciting for the industry as well. However, at present, India is actually Redding’s focal-point, insisting that the Asian sub-continent holds tremendous opportunity for American pecan growers.
“India has a 35% tariff rate on pecans - not on other tree nuts that we compete with,” he said. “So, that will be an important piece for us in future discussions on trade.”
You can listen to Redding’s full discussion with Hays for more details on the pecan industry’s policy agenda, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
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