tv Agriculture Panel at The Texas Tribune Festival CSPAN September 29, 2019 3:49am-4:55am EDT
>> now a discussion on the future to have u.s. agriculture industry. this is from the texas tribune festival in austin. this is just over an hour. [indistinct conversation] everyone!, it is warm. so you're here. thank you! my name the kaleena. anda senior food agriculture reporter at politico. politico covers food and agriculture. we're really proud of that.
and it's for those of you not amiliar, politico is washington d.c. based news outlet. i'm sure all of you are reading it. i'm really delighted to be here today in texas, one of my the union.ates in i'm not just pandering. we're going to talk about the state of agriculture in 2020 and beyond. and before we start, i want to theurage you to join conversation on social media, is trib fest 19. i also want to give a big thanks the texas tribune festival for hosting this great event and sponsoring. i also understand the texas farm bureau is supporting this and to hear from them. we have a really good panel. know if you guys realize that. i don't know if the audience realizes that. two texans and an iowan, which is great. ideologicalss the
spectrum. frankly, there's a lot going on agriculture, so we have plenty to talk about. we're going to take a few questions at the end, so keep in mind, anything you want to ask the panel and we will leave time for lots of discussion and dialogue. so to begin, we have texas sidculture commissioner miller. you're maybe familiar with the texas department of agriculture. that department since 2015. yes, that deserves a round of applause. [applause] >> one of your biggest industries here. former agriculture secretary, tom. led during the obama administration, he was the longest serving cabinet member in that administration. of the u.s.e c.e.o. u.s. dairy export council. then we have state representative drew springer, who represents almost the
largest district in texas, ander than 74 countries more than twice the size of massachusetts. very large district. he also is chair of the agriculture committee in the legislature, which i understand has been getting quite a bit of buzz. we're going to talk about that. yes. welcome! [applause] here.let me set the stage i think we probably mostly have here.griculture audience probably tuning in as well. there are only about two million country that are directly farming. so a lot of people, even though eating and wearing fibers and using fuel that's grown in we're not states, directly engaged in this industry as much as we used to be. disconnect.a big i imagine most of you are not thinking about agriculture every day, but there is a lot going on. and i was hoping that each of you would kind of set the stage you think we are right now in the agriculture sector. i mean, certainly there's been a
bad news. the trade war, and the impact of that. we've had a lot of crazy weather this year. but where are things in the industry? what is the mood? what is the sentiment? is going on that maybe those outside of agriculture are not, like, tuned into? going to start with you, commissioner. >> well, agriculture is the state, overe of our $100 billion industry. one in five jobs is related to culture in this state. we lead the nation in ag culture wool,s, cattle, cotton, mothe list goes on and on. we had -- it's the second largest industry, but even before we had an oil and industry, agriculture has been the glue that's held our state together from the very earliest settlers to the longhorn cattle drives, it's the stabilizing force for our state. let me tell you, agriculture exports is really important and why we're going to talk about
trade.tariffs and laredo, texas, there's 17 ports of entry. that's the largest inland port in the united states. one day's time, there's 14,000 trucks go back and forth across there. a slow day, it's about half a billion dollars worth of trade. about a billion dollars between the state of state of mexico. agriculture is a big deal in our state. myt's why we -- you know, department is a big department. i oversee a $6 billion budget. that's just a number. if i told you, mr. secretary, that my budget than the budget of 31 governors, that would kind of put it in perspective. responsible for five million school meals each day. we do cows, plows and sows.
other stufflot of too that you really don't know about. we're kind of the best unknown of texas.the state >> how do you think -- how are texas farmers and ranchers doing right now? the sentiment? >> farming and ranching is always a struggle. i tell everybody that i'm an eighth generation farmer rancher that's just kind of is in agriculture. we're struggling a little bit. commodity prices have been for quite some time. we do have some highlights. thee had an uptick in livestock industry, in the pork industry, coming back. is the cattle business looking good. we've got some -- a new old prop thatg on the horizon everybody is excited about. hemp, we'll be writing the rules for that this summer and fall and have our first production since the 1940's. but we're at a pivotal point in ag culture in our
state. call it ag culture 3.0. was subsistence farming when most of the families farmed. farmed with mules. and then we went to agriculture had the era of mechanization. we mechanized. then you want from farming 40 4,000 acres.to that's kind of where we've just been. culturee entering ag 3.0 and it's the technology age. so now we're using, you know, tracking, global positioning, drones, you know, high-tech research and all that. we're doing more farming indoors, vertical farming. the whole thing is just changing. so one thing that's constant in culture is that it's always changing, but it's always
changes for the better. culture, we have to constantly produce more with less. challenge. you know, we lose about one farm to urbanre in texas encroachment. we have to, by the year 2050, to have to double the amount of food we produce and we'll have land to do it on. agriculture is really good about rising up to those challenges and we'll continue to that. >> how about you, secretary? where do you see agriculture now? you have a very good pulse on what's going on. averageyou think the consumer doesn't understand? >> first of all, i want to compliment the commissioner gap with thearks number of jobs connected to this industry. of peoplegain, a lot don't understand when you take a look at the food, the industry, 43 million americans are employed directly or indirectly by that industry. largest singlehe employer in the country. so it's a big deal.
so if agriculture is doing well, people are going to be employed. exports are incredibly important to that. we produce ist exported. all farm income is directly related. i would answer the question sort of taking off on what the commissioner said. it depends on what time frame you're talking about. if you're talking act, how are things right now? are feeling folks some stress. as the commissioner indicated, we've had a couple years of prices.ifficult we've had uncertainty in the trade area. so i think there is a bit of stress out there. however, if you're looking at the long-term future of it islture, i think amazingly positive. the commissioner mentioned the agriculture that we're now seeing, vertical agriculture, organic, plant-based materials, things of that nature. but i believe also that as we the changing climate, we can talk about new revenue
streams for farmers. opens up an exciting new future for farming generally that may make it more profitable consistently profitable. pibig challenge in farming is te ups and downs, especially in dairy. we're beginning to flatten those peaks and valleys out. exports record year in last year. had a little bit of a challenge this year, but our value is up significantly. we're selling about $900 million more in dairy products this year than last year. >> which i think is surprising to some people. you hear so much about the trade the streas stress. you're -- agriculture is global in its scope. we sent a lot south. mexico is our number one market of dairy. we don't send as much north as we need to, in canada. that's important. we send to the middle east and north africa. to southeast asia,
korea, japan, china. all over theally world. as the world population grows, it becomes more organized, there's going to be greater dairy for protein and protein can satisfy a lot of that protein need. things areg-term going to get much better, but i think right now there is a bit of stress out there. about you? >> to continue to build on that, early tech was the industry. we went from, you know, one farm feeding themselves, and one person in the city, to now feeding hundreds. to see that growth from the one plow to 48 rows, implementations that the g.p.s. is driving from that standpoint, in the dairy industry. talked about we're now seeing a dairy farm in texas has robots doing the work, because labor is harder and harder to get. we're seeing those type of innovations come through. we're seeing drones that can fly
whiched yards, identify cow is hot and needs treatment rather than treating the entire 1,000 cows with antibiotics. you can treat one cow. towe have healthier food eat. we're not overmed kairting. overmedicating. we're doing the same thing with irrigation. 22 inchessed to spend of water on cotton, we're now down to 12. ofre seeing those kind innovations come through. but at the same time, we have those challenges. is, and i think right now we're seeing it in our cattle half the basically state of texas, ag industry, is cattle. seeing a breakdown in the commodity board. there's class action lawsuits going on. going to the auction barns and are getting paid a fair price. there's manipulation going on. the federal government has not that.d in to address over the next couple of years, we have to do that, or else many going to see just too
folks going broke. >> do you think the folks in your district are generally optimistic about the direction agriculture? we touched a little bit on the stress and sort of, you know, prices are -- i mean they put a lot of farmers in a risky situation or sort of like get to the next year. in it ares that are used to that. they're always optimistic. a more optimistic person than a farmer, rancher, especially in texas. worried, though, about those young farmers. how can they afford to get in county, mye in cook home county of 40,000 people, is $5,000 an acre, when you gotta think of the debt service to be able to raise cattle in that climate, it gets to be really tough. that's really where we face our biggest challenges. >> sounds like -- i mean, there's a lot of optimism, which i talkfrom the farmers to as well. there's also, i think, been a
around theative financial stress and the impact and sort of the moment that agriculture is in, medialot of national coverage has been around, what does that mean politically, right? does that mean that in the next that farmers and ranchers might pull away from president trump? strong, you such a know, constituency for him. sounds like no one is really levelg about, like, that of -- >> ha ha! >> of stress. ha ha! but this is the narrative. the stories. it is very strongly presented that, you know, president trump losing thisf constituency. not that farmers and ranchers elections but that there's sort of an example of rural support for the president a tough time in agriculture. >> i suspect that's more local than it is national. and i gotta remember i'm in texas, so this is going to be a little hard for me to say. but the reality is, where i come from, people are deeply
concerned about the renewable standard. >> you might need to briefly stay with that. >> well, it basically minimum levels of ethanol that's blended into our and biofuels. >> so we're using it but we might not be thinking about ethanol. consumers. >> we're absolutely using it. but from a american farmers perspective, not using as much of it as we could. there's been some uncertainty about where the administration actually is, whether they are on theclined to focus oil industry or more inclined to focus on midwest farmers. issue, more so than the trade, more so than the difficult prices, could potentially drive some farmers a different political decision. i think farmers generally, at to,t the ones i talked they're willing to understand the necessity of going after china. have questions about whether or not we went after it the right way, by to alves as opposed coalition of nations where we could have potentially been more
successful. they understand that china playing by the rules and somebody had to call them on it. i think they're willing to be patient in that respect. the ethanol industry, an issue, plants are closing. lost.re being corn prices are not where they need to be. so that's causing a lot of concern.d >> i think we're -- he's exactly right. i think we're real close to that.g a deal on the president is aware of that. my contact with him and the administration, they want to take care of the corn farmers. all thoset mean for waivers to get out. they did. even though the e.p.a. has done a lot of really good stuff for agriculture industry, water, all that's been fixed, we're going to get to the point, i think really quick, where this be resolved and a certain minimum will be required to restore those ethanol amounts. ethanol is, you know, vital
to our national security. helps us be energy independent. so i think we're almost there on that. >> keeping fingers crossed. >> and the one thing i would add it, talking about how will it wentt, in my district, 86% for president trump, you know, aty're sitting there looking the other alternatives and see saying, jeez, we've got a texan talking about closing the oil and gas industry. if you're a farmer and rancher, you might have minerals below you. they'rether side, hearing presidential candidates saying they want to eliminate the cattle industry by having a tax to make sure only the super elite can afford to eat cattle. there and look at it from this standpoint. once again, that's the big driver in texas, is cattle. not as big in the row and soybeans, but i can tell you, they're not
inering for president trump my part of the district. >> i have a lot of interviews the farmerssk me, are, are we sticking with trump and these tariffs? we're goingble through? we've lost our sales to china. theink farmers get it in long run. we made a huge mistake from a business point. never allow any one customer to have 60% or more of business. that's what happened to china. when you do that, they can get you. we are now.of where we've always been in a trade war with china. this is the first time we've fought back. i think farmers understand, in the long run, we're going to be a lot better off by spreading our risk, being less reliant on one big customer. department, we just -- we've been really, really hustling that, finding new markets. we've got our sorghum into spain and dubai. i just returned from 10 days in india, opening new markets
there. leaving to go be to vietnam. replace thate can market that we lost, i don't sell to chinar again. we've got to spread our risk out. >> that's easy for a guy from texas to say. but the soybean farmers are going to have a difficult time alternative market for what they sold to china. there's just no way. lot of consumers. but to your point, i think there toward beingift more -- having your eggs in to not havingets, all -- if you have one trading just completely decimates prices in one year, if they just decide to not -- largest we sold to china sorghum.on and grain we're finding new customers. we've been pretty successful at it. we will be less reliant on
china. >> a hear a lot more patience a lotou see reflected in of the coverage. i think that is true. but how long can that last? need a lote going to of patience with china. it's still unclear as to what is relative to china, which is to say, are we trying to disengage our chineses from the economy? they were closely linked to the commissioner's point. disengage, goto out to the rest of the world, or are we trying to get them to of doingeir way business so we can do business more easily with them? >> not stealing intellectual property and all that. >> we're asking them to change they do business in their own country. pretty heavy lift. because weult also went along. had we spent time building an alliance with europeans, japanese, koreans, maybe even folks in south america, it would be more difficult for them to put the bulls bull's-eye as they
farmers.merican i think the administration recognizes that. they're trying to reach out now get some they can support from the e.u. i was over in europe. a european official came up to and said, thank you very much for what you're doing over there, because as long as you they areng with china, buying all of our stuff. not buying from you. you know what? them toucceed and get change the rules, we're gonna benefit from that too. we get the best of both worlds and don't have to pay a price. >> i think one thing that might one of theexplain, reasons agriculture is so vulnerable in trade, we have so production. we're so good at sell our that we have a surplus and we have long had a surplus compared to other industries. we're importing way more clothing but exporting way more goods than we're importing. which means if you're fighting like, oh, that's the thing to target, the pain
point. i think folks don't really that's whythat but agriculture is so vulnerable, because we are successful. >> but to -- part of that is it's the efficiency of the it working? is if china and america are getting along, yes. but when china wasn't taking i'm in shanghai and i'm walking down the streets, seeing ibp stackedxes of up. they just went to vietnam and other countries. take on moving that. same thing's happened to soybeans. the u.s. is back-filling where to.il used to fill so you do have that. capacity andhe x some of these left over, yes, you don't want to be the last one holding. but i think it's painted too often in the media that we don't our soybeans to china, they're just going to rot. that's not true. get a smaller amount for them.
>> you might not make money but rot.re not going to ok. respect,ll due representative, there are bins full of soybeans in my state. before the harvest. there's really no place to put those soybeans. that's the challenge. commissioner's point, overreliant on one market, it disruption. but here's the frustration for people who aren't farmers. that you -- just imagine that you were the best at something, best in the world. imagine you were the best in the history of the world at what you did. and in the best year of farm in 2014, 75% of you would make less than $10,000. player,he best baseball what are you making, commissioner? you're the best doc, what are making? best farmer? you may go out of business. that's the frustrating thing farming. and we do have the best that
ever was. >> good news! just this last week, china bought -- correct me on the numbers -- but i think it was million tons of soybeans. >> oh, no. >> wasn't it that much? 750,000. >> 750,000. that's a pot of beans. that's a good start. wouldept that we normally sell seven billion. >> all right. buy our are starting to beans again. that's a good sign. >> i think, yeah, a few years million.as like 14 so, you know, it's like a small step, because over the summer, after talks broke down, they stopped buying a lot of it. >> but you've got to get started. so that's a pretty good start. >> i know everyone is really anxious. we can talk about trade all day. i want to come back to 2020. think your point about, what's the alternative, is a really interesting one. don't hear agriculture talked a lot about in presidential debates, whether
they're primary or general. it's just not a major issue, which i think sometimes folks about andboth happy not happy about. you want to be an important issue but also sometimes it's not help -- we in the democratic party a little more conversation around agriculture comes up in terms of climate. a little bit of trade. almost all of the candidates, there's so many i don't even know how many are left. they have put out agriculture plans.ent they're at least starting to talk about it a little bit more. you've been beating this drum for a long time in the democratic party, trying to get conversation. does anyone see any -- anything havingging about agriculture mentioned more? like soil management came up in recently. do you think that's a good thing for agriculture, or does it some of to politicize these issues further?
>> from my perspective, if you live in iowa, i can tell you that agriculture, rural development is discussed every trail.the campaign it doesn't necessary percolate in the national media but it's the local media all the time. and candidates are talking about it, which i think is a positive thing. i think they're talking about it in a positive way too. they're talking about the revenue opportunities that can be created through agriculture. i mean, with all due respect, in brooklyn, new york, you can sequester a whole lot carbon in iowa than you can in brooklyn, new york. if we're going to get really climate,ious about we're gonna start figuring out how farmers can be encouraged to do the farming practices that will allow us to improve soil revenueexpand opportunities for farmers and increase productivity of the soil. thing, a positive thing. and i think more and more folks are talking about that. they're also talking about, in the dairy industry, the belief that we can, within a reasonable
period of time, get to a net zero emission future where we actually generate more revenue for dairy farmers than they get today just from their milk. day when -- imagine a day when farmers are paid for the methane they capture and into electricity. they take the manure, use solids to produce a wide variety of materials. they get paid for those, because new products. now all of a sudden, you've got multiple profit centers coming of american agriculture. i think that's the bright new future we're going to see. come back to climate and talk about practices and trends. see anything positive or about having the president talk about ag more? aknow we're going through democratic primary right now. talkactually talk -- we about it a lot more. our goal is to -- in fact, our
i've becomee commissioner is texas agriculture matters. talk about is -- i the school nutrition. kids think their food comes from the grocery store and heat comes from the furnace. we're trying to make them aware their food comes from. by doing that, we create healthy habits. i think the more they talk about it, the better. it helps us understand, you face our issues that industry, the ag culture issues,es, our labor tariff issues, all our struggles and the, you know, droughts floods and hailstorms. loti think they would be a more sympathetic to our issues, especially up on the hill, when for property insurance or whatever we're working on, issues.r i think if they understood us better, we would get along a lot better. >> on the problem with -- the problem with the primary side
that we're in right now is bases. talking to their so their base is excited when or --ay, let's talk cows >> actually, not politically -- >> but somebody is sitting there then you go to the g.m.o.'s. eliminate g.m.o.'s. i say, fantastic! i've got one question. which billion people in this world you're going to starve to death tomorrow if we ended all g.m.o.'s. >> so i >> i have read almost all the plans. i don't think any of them ban gmo's, but it is certainly a consumer sentiment that you hear, so i will grant you that. great policy tracker, on politico.com, to see where all the candidates are on all the issues. notdded one, on weather or candidates support urging americans to eat less meat, as a
position. i don't think anyone has come up with taxing. >> you can go to the twitter account and watch him -- >> he did say that eventually beef would become so expensive that production would go down. i'mn gmo's, i'll tell you, probably never going to get invited back again. >> oh, boy. [laughter] [applause] >> -- [laughter] gmo's have been the best thing ever to happen to our planet and environment. i will explain. with gmo's, we have been able to change farming practices. >> so you are disrupting the soil less. the farmers, we use fuelerage five gallons of
per acre. modified plants you will and per acre. we reduce the pesticides we use by 50%, and commercial fertilizers by 40%. the soil,er turn which releases hydrocarbons. minimum tillage, we don't do that. and when you turn it over, you kill microbes in the soil. gmo's aren't necessarily bad. they have been one of the best advances for the environment that i have seen in my lifetime, but they get a bad rap. >> here is my wish. consistency in science. the folks who are railing about gmo's will tell you the climate is changing. is pretty clear about that, right?
we're going warmer. no doubt about that. i talked to farmers, and they say they are all about gmo's, but don't talk to us about climate change. we need consistency here. gmo's, or are for you don't think the climate is getting warmer. what is at stake here is a better understanding of the scientific process and a better respect for that scientific process, because i think we have gotten to a point where we no longer trust science. to me, that's a very dangerous situation, because science has been responsible for significant advancements, and if you start distrusting it -- >> let's get the climate, then. that's really the context where agriculture is being brought up most in the democratic party, in terms of farmers at least getting mentioned on debate stages as being part of the solution. we touched a little on some practices, so if you are growing corn and not tilling, minimum
till, no-till, producing tillage, you -- reducing tillage, you aren't emitting as much carbon. and if you are adding cover crops, they can draw carbon out of the atmosphere and essentially create a carbon sink. so there's discussion around, can you pay farmers and ranchers to sequester carbon, and not only go to neutral emissions but theoretically create a carbon sink, and agriculture could be paid for offsetting emissions from all of us driving around, riding lawn mowers on our massive suburban lawns and all that. you would basically flip the table around, from blaming agriculture for contributions to emissions, and contribute in the climate change like all of us are, to being actually a very big part of the solution. i think that's kind of where it
is turning, but it's not really hit the mainstream. i don't know if you see a turning in terms of how farmers are thinking about this. is it an opportunity like you said, to create new revenue, or are we just at the beginning of thinking of it in those terms? because right now they aren't paid for that. >> at the direction of the farm bureau, the american farm bureau federation, the commodity groups formed the former-rancher alliance that represent virtually all the major commodity groups. aey recently had a summit, on soybean farm in maryland. >> yes. >> where there was a discussion about the future of agriculture, and there was a decision and commitment to work towards a net zero emissions future, with the recognition that to get there, society and the government and the private sector, foundations, et cetera, have to help. you cannot expect farmers to do
this on their own dime. they have to have help. they have to have contributions. we have to set up markets, and we should set up markets. that's the additional revenue streams i talked about earlier. it is a tremendous opportunity here. you have a lot of soil out there that can be more productive, richer and healthier, if we basically sequester carbon. we have incredible research going on in terms of the root system of commodities that could not only store more carbon, but actually maintain storage of the carbon, even though the crop is harvested. there's a brave new world out there for us, but we need investments in research, public finance research. our great land-grant universities need more help. the government needs to recognize the important role that agriculture can play, and provide financial resources. if you provide financial incentives, i think most farmers and ranchers will be more than happy to do their fair share. they always have. >> let's bring in the texan perspective. talking about storing carbon or
being paid for carbon sequestration, is that a conversation that is happening right now? >> you know, not really. >> this is good. want him to be invited back to future festivals. let's come back five years, and asked that question. >> you know, it could change. >> go ahead. >> i was going to say. part of the challenge, because it is a commodity crop, how does the rest of the world pay in this -- play into this? the trillions to we have in federal debt to pay for this? does brazil, south america, europe, buy into this deal to do the same type of requirement from their farmers and ranchers, to where we don't become competitively disadvantaged?
that's what my folks in my district are always worried about. if you put regulations, put things on top of us we have to compete in a global market, that's not a fair playing field. >> this isn't about regulation. this is about incentives, providing resources. right now, european farmers are being paid for this, and it puts them at a competitive advantage in how they sell their crops. they get 30% of their income guaranteed on january 1 for certain conservation practices. our farmers are at competitive disadvantage in terms of europe, because they have a system right now for those practices. so, i agree, this is not about regulation. that won't work. but if you provide incentives, i think there are enough farmers out there who would be very interested in looking at this. >> we are at a point in time where we have said, it is one guy on the farm feeding hundreds of people in the city. the hundreds of people in the city realize that incentive means you want to tax me to have it to him, and are they willing to pay that tax for that perceived value?
that's really where it will play out in policy. >> i think if the government were paying for the carbon sequestration, you would definitely be setting up that dynamic. >> the private sector. >> the ideal that some people would hope is you would have a market that would pay for carbon offset, basically. >> you have regulated industries now that would pay for that benefit, and corporations with a social responsibility who are interested in investing. >> like mcdonald's, walmart. >> and you have to be careful with the comment about taxing. right now, farmers are receiving a significant amount of payment through the farm bill. i don't believe that people are considering that a tax. i think they understand, it is a payment that we make as a society, in order to maintain the cost of food, whic his really inexpensive in this country. >> food security. they should do that. i think going to climate, it's
different from food security. >> so, sticking to climate, really quick for a minute here. do you, i'm curious if either of the texans feel that this conversation of agriculture around climate has changed at all after this year? an unprecedented number of acres that couldn't be planted, 20 million acres. really awful flooding in several parts of texas, which is still going on by the way. not really covered, but thousands and thousands of acres of farmland are underwater still, in several places. imelda dropwe had 40 inches in a couple of days, flooding texas. inthere any shift happening the conversation? maybe don't even call it climate change, but changing climate? some of these terms are really
politicized. but a changing climate is different than talking about climate change. do you think there's any change happening in the conversations you are hearing? >> not really. i mean, we're used to hurricanes, tropical storms. that's not the exception. it is kind of the norm. we have those, so it is not something new. perhaps it is something we should be talking about. but i travel a lot around the nation, and the questions doesn't come up in the crowds i speak to. >they're more worried about tariffs, labor issues. >> the more immediate. >> yes. are more federal, they worried about the tariffs. but at the local and state level, my farmers and ranchers are more concerned about their property rights, imminent domain, property taxes, those dwarf anysively
conversations about what's going on for the climate. u.s.ere's a simmering -- farmers and ranchers put out an ad recently, saying they are positioned to be the solution to climate change, i believe the call to action from the commodity group. but i don't hear as much. >> i think it will change, and what will drive the change is when people begin to see there's revenue opportunities. when they begin to think of this in terms of another commodity. >> right. >> and that day is coming. i think there's a way in which we can showcase that to the rest of the world. i would tell you, i travel, i know the commissioner does, too, overseas. the reality, consumers both domestically here and internationally have become more and more interested in where their food comes from, how it is produced and whether it is sustainably produced, and they will be demanding more and more information. to the extent american
agriculture can be the leader in sustainability, can create the ability to say, we are net zero admissions, the products we are selling you, i think it will be a marketing advantage for us in the future. so i think it is coming. it' certainly not in the grassroots nows, but it is coming. >> to the point, where your food comes from is probably the number two thing i heard about in the last, especially in the last year's session. food labeling. where's my food coming from? when it says it is meat, is that really meat? is it a burger? we now not only have plant-based ingredientst the look like a dog food ingredient list, and the ceo of whole foods saying it is not healthy for you because it is so super-processed. >> it sounds like you are not buying this product yet. [laughter] technology, where they
are taking cells and growing them in a petri dish, and you have gone from a 3000 door hamburger to an $11 hamburger. but the -- >> the cost is definitely coming down. >> and that is fine. somebody might say, i would rather eat a petri dish hamburger knowing the cow didn't pass gass in texas. of people who would say, i don't trust that. when i eat a hamburger, i want to know it walked on god's green earth. >> going back to the question of science, and how willing people are to go down that road. we will take a couple questions from the audience. i just want to have you percolate some ideas, while we continue to talk about plant-based meat, also hemp
really quick. keep those in mind. >> the labeling issue is really important. problem, the reason you want to use the term "meat," tour with dairy the term "milk" is that consumers believe that that name carries with it a guarantee of certain nutritional value. you drink a glass of milk, you think you are acting amino acids, vitamin d and all that stuff, right? but if you look at the plant-based beverages and compare it to milk produced for cow, you will see there is a significant nutritional difference. a deficit on the side, a surplus on the side. to the extent that people want to use these terms, at the very least they need to be nutritionally equivalent, and they are not, so they need to look at the term. in the committee we call it "nut juice" instead of milk.
>> some companies do call it almond beverage, versus almond milk. >> the law requires them to do that. that's the frustrating thing for farmers. the fda has a rule that you can't use the term "milk" unless it comes from an animal. >> they will do "almondmilk," in one word. >> i am told is only four almonds in a court of almond milk. >> i can't provide a fact check on that. ofthis point, there a lot excitement on wall street, the ipo for beyond meat, and fast food companies carrying the impossible burger, beyond burgers, which are made from different plant-bases. they do tend to be highly processed, mimicking meat. there's excitement. however, per capita meat consumption has been going up
for a long time. not like american consumers have been mass-exiting from meat and dairy. per capita dairy consumption is going up. people are eating yogurt, cheese, dairy in different forms, but not thinking as much fluid milk. so there is a lot of i think shifting, sort of consumer tastes changing really rapidly, and i hear a lot of consternation about that. it's not like we have abandoned dairy as a country, or meat. we're still consuming a lot of meat and dairy. >> difference in labeling is what we are talking about. >> we hear that debate a lot. should you be able to call it a burger? [inaudible] there is a marketing idea for you won't. -- you all. it's unclear. there's research to support both
sides, whether or not consumers are confused about whether an impossible burger is beef or not. open for debate. >> you need to give consumers the information, let them make a choice and let the market decide. the other thing concerning about labeling is deceptive negative labeling. milk that says gluten-free. >> or gmo-free. >> for water. >> it suggests that the carton next to it, that doesn't contain those labels, probably does contain those things. well, it doesn't. to me, it's not only using terms properly, but also that we are very careful about the negative claims. >> there's a lot of misconceptions like that. is one of my favorite things. everyone thinks that 2% is so much less than whole milk, but just 1% more. >> whole milk, a lot of people haven't even had it, so then they taste it --
>> technologies coming out with processing, long-term shelflife, bottling. some of the texas dairy guys, it is phenomenal. my wife put a little bit in coffee, and is getting five grams of protein from a cup of coffee. >> and less sugar and less fat. meatant-based meats, substitutes, all the vegetarian like meat,hey don't why are they trying to make it taste like meat all the time? [laughter] >> i don't have the answer for you on that. >> ok. it doesn't make any sense to me. >> maybe someone in the audience. we will open it up. opennk there is a mic to questions. there is a livestream, and people are watching. we will start -- >> my name is nora. i run farmers markets in austin,
some of the biggest in texas. i work with a lot of farmers and ranchers. they are small. my ranchers have 100 to 300 heads of cattle. they aren't having conversations with me that are specifically about carbon sequestration to combat climate, but they recognize the droughts in texas are getting longer and the rain cycles arcing more intense, and they don't have the time to have long conversations with you, they don't have the money for marketing campaigns. but i have a long waiting list of ranchers who want to get into our farmers markets and want to transition to grass-fed, more sustainable beef. they feel at the state and federal level, they aren't getting support. so what i want to hear from you guys, how can the smaller guys with 100, 200 heads of cattle who are transitioning, currently bearing the majority of the cost, how is the state and
federal government helping them, because they have a small voice compared to the guys with 2000 heads of cattle in your district? >> i am happy to talk about that. >> i think that was directed at you. >> first of all, someone with 100 or 200 head of cattle is not a small operation. the average in the state of texas is about 32 heads. that's average. so small is 15 to 20. hard, at the texas department of agriculture. i like to say that we don't pick winners and losers. we like to pick winners and winners. it can be organic, we are for that. grass fed, we offer that. -- we are for that. we're for everybody. one of the things that we have done that has been most successful, when i took over the school nutrition program. thekids wouldn't eat stuff.
i went around the state and said, why don't you all participate in the farm fresh friday program? we say on friday to go eat something local, go down to a farmers market. they would say, we don't have a farmers market or we don't have time to go there. this is difficult for us. so we set up a system, where we -- we set up a clearinghouse. we brought the farmers and who wanted to sell to schools. r schools bought $58 million of local product from our local farmers and ranchers, when they were buying zero before. it is a win-win for everybody. no added salt, no preservatives, and for the most part it is cheaper when you cut out the middleman. and a lot of it is organic. that's one of the things. our bettert's one of
successes at getting local products in our schools. farmers, win, kids win, taxpayers win because they are paying less. >> what i see as the biggest challenge is really the food distribution network and the large retailers. have a lot of i ranchers in my district, and the benefit of it, they have small meat processors, and there's not a lot of those in the country. they have guys doing grass-fed, doing home delivery and partnering with restaurants to take it there, so they are finding ways around it. the h.e.b. and walmart are big suppliers and only want to deal with two meatpackers bringing it up, that's some of the challenge. you guysd, what are
doing? [inaudible] >> my understanding, you're telling me it is working for them and they are building that business -- >> i'm saying i have people who need help at the state level two sell their products because h.e.b. uiis not buying on a massive scale, so what is the state doing to promote this? on capture, climate change in issue, you say no. and i work with farmers and ranchers and every day, and they say yes it is, so what are you doing to help them? real hard, to do exactly what you are asking. if you run farmers markets, you know that we make sure it is local sources.
we're very strict on that. we promote farmers markets. we work real hard at that. we kicked off a program yesterday, with a 20,000 square-foot building full of our products, all from sold, all local, and we $300,000 of that last year with 11 of the 24 days rained out. it's been very successful, celebrating our 20th year. when i was commissioner, we had 800 members, and we are at 1700 now. you may not see it, but i promise we are working real hard for ranchers and farmers and agricultural products. >> it sounds at you guys should chat afterwards, too. >> this is important, because a lot of people don't realize what the federal government is doing. first of all, we created a
micro-loan program to help the small guys access credit at a more affordable rate of interest. we created the farm to school program, which works with schools so they understand how to purchase from local producers. we have a farmers market promotion program that gives grants to farmers markets. we have a local and regional food production program. that's all designed to help those people you are talking about. we have crop insurance assistance programs. what's missing from this equation is the development of ecosystem markets, that can be supported by government initially, to allow foundations, corporations to donate or to purchase credits for water conservation, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat expansion. that's what's missing. we began that process, of encouraging ecosystem market development, but more of that needs to be done.
>> but it is not clear where that is at usda right now. >> i can only talk about what we did. >> i want to keep moving, because we have more questions. right here? really great stuff. about 35 years ago -- >> you don't tell a former governor -- [laughter] we originally bought some ground to plant things. i'm deeply interested because we are talking about hemp, very deeply interested in the legislature taking the first steps towards making it possible to start cultivating hemp in this state. what do you collectively, and you specifically, commissioner, c has the opportunity there for farmers in texas? it short and sweet, so
we can keep moving. >> i'm a big proponent of growing hemp. we're waiting for federal guidelines to come down, so we can start writing rules and issuing permits. we'll do our very best to have spring ready and out for planting. it will be highly regulated, not by the state, but the federal government. we haven't been able to grow amp in the state even on research basis because it was classified as narcotics. they took it off the banned list, so we can produce abate in the program now. -- participate in the program now. we are a little behind, but we will catch up, and we will create a "hempire" in texas, i
promise. [laughter] we will be number one. >> i fully expect dea will do a great job getting the rules and regulations out in time for the spring crop. my biggest thing, the secretary and i talked about it beforehand. we have a lot of land, we can over-produce what the producers can process. that's always my concern. it's $10,000 an acre? you can get close to $200 an acre with corn, really fast. so talk to your neighbors, but we want to see that succeed in texas. we considere things when we issue the permit, if you want a permit, you need a contract to sell it. we want to prevent overproduction, exactly what you are talking about. if you don't have a buyer, you are getting a permit. >> can't get too excited about hemp, because if everyone grows it, no one will. go ahead? talkppy you're here to
about one of the world's most important issues, what we will eat and how we are going to eat it. question one, given monsanto, a lot of farmers have the seeds. question two, as the theronment to diminish with regularities of climate change, if urban farming is going to become a thing, what are going to be your regulations? wants tot know who take that? >> the second part of it, on hydroponics. it might become urban, but
there's a place outside marfa, texas that grows 50 acres of greenhouse, hydroponic, 1500 acres worth of tomatoes. i think we will see this. i don't know anything we are doing in texas that is slowing that down, from that aspect. your question may start getting into tax policy, like, if you are sitting on half an acre doing this, do you get the valuation? i would have to bring in chairman burroughs if we want that conversation. >> zoning is also an issue. my thing with the monsanto issue i, it's not an run into, from intellectual property. >> to answers to your question. first of all, the reality, the reason monsanto did what it did is because it invested a tremendous amount of money developing those seeds.
so we have ceded too much of our research to the private sector. we need more publicly financed research that can then be available for entrepreneurs to create new seed technologies that wouldn't be as expensive. the second issue, in this day and age of change, are patent laws that provide protections time, extended period of somebody needs to look at those and ask if in this day and age of rapid change, if providing years and years of protection makes sense. maybe it needs to be shorter thatd of time to provide research to more people less expensively. but as long as you cede the responsibility to the private sector, and they invest as they do, millions of dollars to create those seeds, they will try to figure out a way to recoup their investment, and i think that's fair. >> on that note, federally-funded research in agriculture is actually going
down in real dollars, especially compared to what other countries are spending. just on that note of publicly supported research. >> real quick on hydroponics. months, an 3-4 example of one company. they have a concept where they up 20 or 30 extra greenhouses next to every walmart distribution center, growing fresh vegetables, grains. tom the time they harvest it being on the shelf at walmart is under 24 hours. that is where we are going. there's many more of that same kind of business concept. places that were shut are opening back up, renovating.
booming right now. >> on that positive note, i am told we are out of time. otherwise i would take your questions. but you should come and talk to the panelists, ask questions in person. a big thanks again to the texas fizerne festival, and p sponsoring the politico tent, the texas farm bureau sponsoring that. i hope you enjoy more festival offerings, and thank you so much for joining us. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> these parents washington journal, live every day with news that impacts you. former u.s. envoy to the middle us toennis ross will join talk about tensions with iran. we will look at house democrats launching an impeachment inquiry into president trump. turmoil initical washington is impacting u.s. markets. be sure to watch c-span's washington journal live at 7:00 this morning. this weekend on american history tv, today at 2:00 p.m. eastern, the psychological impact on world war i pilots. women in the apollo program and the challenges they faced.
>> there were cameras all over the place. this camera was just on me, i had no idea how long it had been on me. i did not say anything about it. we did not even know the term sexual harassment or hostile workforce. there are two different ways to think about that. one, it is a little voyeuristic on the part of the dudes watching you. the other way to think of it is, let them look and let them all know, let everyone who is not in no, i am here, get used to it. past onre our nation's american history tv, every weekend on c-span3. >> campaign 2020. watch our live coverage of the presidential candidates on the
campaign trail and make up your own mind. c-span's campaign 2020, your unfiltered view of politics. >> now, a discussion on border security and the 2020 elections from the texas tribune festival in austin. this is one hour. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> i'm here, you can be right here. congresswoman, hi.