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National association helps ODA and Oregon agriculture

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A meeting in the nation’s capitol this week has brought state departments of agriculture together to focus on some key issues facing farmers, ranchers, and processors, including those in Oregon:

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NASDA, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, held its winter policy conference this week with attendance by Director Katy Coba of the Oregon Department of Agriculture:

COBA:  “We are so in sync with the rest of the state departments of agriculture on these key issues and we can rely on NASDA and NASDA staff to carry that message– whether it’s to congressional members or federal partners. NASDA is very important for Oregon.”  :14

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Among the key policy issues discussed by all the states were invasive species, water quality, and the Food Safety Modernization Act– probably the most extensive issue NASDA members have dealt with. At the conference, NASDA members voted to retain the right to go to Congress if their work with FDA’s proposed rules isn’t satisfactory:

COBA:  “NASDA is a player on Capitol Hill. That has been a priority for us to really beef up that presence in the last five years. I think we’ve done a great job of that and that will be a priority moving forward as well.”  :10

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ODA Director Coba’s leadership on food safety issues has provided NASDA with a strong voice. Speakers at the winter conference included two top FDA deputy commissioners, the EPA Administrator, and US Secretary of Ag Tom Vilsack, who learned of the Senate passage of the Farm Bill as he spoke to NASDA. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.

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COBA says NASDA has never tackled an issue as complex and far reaching as the Food Safety Modernization Act. NASDA has offered official comments to proposed rules on behalf of all states:

“The impact that FSMA has on agricultural producers that have never really been regulated before in that way, is the reason that is driving the state departments of agriculture. But we have managed, thankfully, to be very unified on this issue.”  :14

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COBA says the NASDA meetings allow top federal officials to hear the agricultural concerns of states and respond to questions:

“That’s the benefit, particularly these mid-year meetings, which we have every year in DC so that we have that chance to interact with those federal agency counterparts.”  :10

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