For the past year, a group of leaders and staff from a diverse group of commodity crop, animal agriculture and general farm organizations have been engaged in an ongoing dialogue exploring the interconnections between food, energy, national security and environmental policies. They have considered things that need to happen internally and externally for the ag sector to capitalize on emerging opportunities in a global new energy future and steps or actions the sector must take to influence and shape needed enabling public policy.
A primary area of focus for this dialogue, which was facilitated by 25x'25, has been federal biofuel policies and policy measures that will help ensure that America's energy future is sustainable for both grain and livestock producers. Through the dialogue participants reaffirmed the interdependent nature of their relationship and committed to work to find common ground on enabling federal policies that would benefit both grain and livestock farmers.
The dialogue resulted in agreement on a set of guiding principles that should be used in shaping federal energy policy. Among the key guiding principles - participants agreed that going forward - energy policies must be transparent; increase renewable energy production; provide economic opportunities for livestock and commodity producers; and be economically viable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable.
Participants also discussed a set of "Policy Platform Planks" - which seek to ensure access to energy markets; level the energy playing field and provide protection against price volatility; open more land to sustainable food and energy feedstock production; create new and expand current markets for biofuel and livestock producers; improve energy efficiency; and provide important incentives for animal agricultures' distributed energy generation projects.The groups involved in the discussion include the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Farmland Trust, American Soybean Association, National Association of Conservation Districts, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, National Institute for Animal Agriculture and the National Milk Producers Federation.