Edge: Farmers Frustrated With Policymakers

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative caught up with its members at World Dairy Expo earlier this month to review polls and federal policy.

Edge members who participated voiced they are feeling frustrated by a lack of government action on issues they see as most important, like the farm labor crisis and enforcing regulations against misleading food labels. And the farmers don’t feel confident about progress.

The cooperative argues lawmakers are focused instead on the pandemic, the debt ceiling and social programs — and getting reelected. Edge says this is leaving citizens with sinking expectations.

“We’ve seen the erosion of trust in government institutions over time,” says Cassandra Kuball of Michael Torrey Associates, Edge’s Washington, D.C.-based advocacy partner. “And the past year and a half has been no exception, with the ebb and flow of policies and regulations around the pandemic and economy.”

Kuball says she doesn’t expect this low-level trust in government to change anytime soon, and she anticipates it will be reflected in the midterm election in November 2022, when voters will choose one-third of U.S. senators and every member of the House.

John Holevoet, director of government affairs for Edge, said he understands farmers’ frustration with the lack of action in Washington. Most lawmakers are already looking to the mid-term elections, he said, meaning agricultural issues are being pushed to the back burner.

“That message is frustrating for farmers, but in the political world, everything is seen through the lens of the next election,” Holevoet said. “I understand how priorities change for lawmakers, but I also understand that for people who aren’t in all that every day, the inaction is frustrating.”

Edge’s priorities this fall include: obtaining better access to global markets, changes to the Federal Milk Marketing Order, farmer-led environmental innovation and “truthful” food labeling — making sure labels like “dairy” or “meat” reflect dairy from a hooved mammal and meat from an animal.

What do voters think about the Biden administration and Congress? (Compiled on Oct. 1)