AFIA president and CEO Constance Cullman provides her insights into what the US feed industry can expect from the Biden administration
The United States will inaugurate its 46th president Joe Biden on January 20, 2021. In preparation for this transition, the U.S. feed industry is speculating about the potential policy and regulatory changes that could shape the sector for the next four years and beyond.
Feed Strategy reached out to the new president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), Constance Cullman, to get her take on what she thinks U.S. feed producers can expect under the Biden administration.
TRANSCRIPT: Feed Strategy Chat featuring Constance Cullman, AFIA president and CEO
Jackie Roembke, editor of Feed Strategy magazine: Hello everyone and welcome to Feed Strategy Chat. I am your host, Jackie Roembke, editor of Feed Strategy magazine. This edition of Feed Strategy Chat is brought to you by WATT Global Media and FeedStrategy.com. FeedStrategy.com is your source for the latest news and leading-edge analysis of the global animal feed industry.
Today we are joined on Zoom by Constance Cullman, president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA). How are you, Constance?
Constance Cullman, president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA): Very well, Jackie. I hope you’re well today.
Roembke: I am, thank you. Well, let’s get right into it. Here in the U.S., we’re about to have a major change with the new presidency when Joe Biden takes office in January of 2021. In your opinion, what Biden administration policy changes could you see benefiting U.S. agriculture, specifically the animal feed industry?
Cullman: Jackie, I think there are three major policy areas: the strategy for curbing COVID-19, the Build Back Better plan and the commitment to climate change.
On the first one, it’s going to take up the first year of the Biden administration, I think he is going to be spending a great deal of his time pushing back on this COVID-19, getting the U.S. economy back going again. And the one of the ways that they’re going to be doing that is of course trying to prioritize access to protective devices and equipment as well as vaccines. So one of the things that we’re very interested in is how will that be rolled out, both by the administration and by the states. And of course, we are very interested in making sure that behind those frontline health care providers, and those most at risk for COVID-19, that the essential workers that are working to produce animal and human food for the U.S. economy are prioritized. And that’s one area that I think that the Biden administration will be working very closely with us.
The second big area is the Build Back Better plan. And, of course, this all focuses on infrastructure. And it’s going to be a very different look and approach. President-elect Biden has certainly emphasized his attention and desire to stimulate the economy with energy, renewable energy, and other initiatives in that order. And so one of the things that we’re going to be really focusing a lot on is not only infrastructure — which of course, is critical for the U.S. animal food industry — but also rural broadband. COVID-19 definitely demonstrated that rural America and those businesses that operate in rural America are definitely at a disadvantage by not having access to that high-speed internet.
And then the third area is climate change. Jackie, I mean, when you take a look at some of his appointments, to different cabinets, and one thing that they all have in common is a focus on air — particularly when you look at some of the candidates for EPA. So we are very hopeful that the feed industry can sit down the table with the Biden administration, and talk about how we believe we have solutions to some of the climate change challenges that the world faces, and we’re looking to work with the Biden administration in that vein.
Roembke: What do you predict for the trade environment between the U.S. and China in 2021?
Cullman: So that is a very interesting question. We completed the Phase One Agreement under the Trump presidency. And that brought a lot of benefits for the animal food industry. So we’re really going to be working hard, long and hard with the Biden presidency to make sure that we lock in those wins from that Phase One Agreement.
And when we take a look at the way President-elect Biden has talked about the the the China agreement, the China relationship, I still think he’s going to be tough. He has indicated he wants to hold China’s feet to the fire when it comes to things like intellectual property, human rights, and those kinds of concerns. And certainly trade access and market access is going to be part of that.
Take a look at who he put in place for U.S. trade ambassador. We take a look at Katherine Tai, she’s tough. She knows China. She speaks Mandarin, I believe. And I think that that’s a strong indication of where a President Biden will be going with his relationship on China. We’re also hopeful that we can continue to make some progress in that area, again, keep the Phase One Agreement locked in, and make some make some adjustments, perhaps, in getting more international allies on board with working with China, and President Biden has indicated that he will do that.
Roembke: Excellent. And do you foresee a heightened regulatory climate during the Biden presidency? And if so, in what areas?
Cullman: So I think food safety clearly has been something that he has talked about quite a bit and certainly was a hallmark of the Obama administration when he served as vice president. So I think it’ll continue to be a priority. Worker safety, environmental site safety, will also be a strong focus of this next administration. And I think the industry can certainly get on board with that emphasis on food safety, and we stand ready to work with him on that worker safety and environmental safety.
Roembke: Thank you. If you’d like to hear more about how the Biden administration may shape the future of the U.S. feed industry, tune into Feed Strategy’s free webinar on January 28, when Constance and her co-presenter Dr. Ben Brown, assistant professor of agricultural risk management at the University of Missouri, tackle this issue. Register today at www.feedstrategy.com/webinars.
Thank you again for your time today, Constance.
Cullman: Thank you, Jackie.
Roembke: And thanks to everyone for tuning in.
Register for AFIA’s Constance Cullman and Dr. Ben Brown’s webinar, “How the Biden administration will shape the future of the US feed and grain industries”