tv Agriculture Panel at The Texas Tribune Festival CSPAN October 2, 2019 2:38pm-3:45pm EDT
supreme court ruled that tomatoes are vegetables and it was an interesting ruling in that it had repercussions just beyond tomatoes. >> sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a. >> coming up, the conversation on the future of the agriculture industry. we hear from former agriculture secretary and iowa governor, tom bill back. the texas tribune festival is in austin and this is just over one hour. >> welcome everyone. it is warm. you are here. thank you. my name is paulina and i'm a senior food and agricultural reporter at politico.
politico covers food and agriculture and we are proud of that. it is for those not familiar with politicals washington dc news outlet and i'm sure all of you are reading it and getting ourll newsletters and content ad delighted to be here todayto in texas, one of my favorite states in the union and i'm not just pandering. we'll talk about the state of agriculture in 2020 and beyond and before we start i want to encourage you to join the conversation on social media with the # trip assessed 19. i also want to give a big thanks to the practice t to be in vestl for hosting this great event and i understand texas farm bureau is supporting this and we will hear fromg them. we have a good panel and i don't know if you realize that but we have, we got two texans and an
iowan, which is great. across the ideological spectrum in state and federal perspectives and friendly there's a lot going on in agriculture so funny to talk about and we will take the questions at the end so keep in mind anything you want to ask the panel and we will leave time for discussion and dialogue. to begin we have texas agriculture commissioner said muller. he is let that department 2016. [applause] then of course we got former agriculture secretary tom bill back. [applause] he not only led the obama administration but is the longest sitting cabinet member in that in administration. the two-term t iowa governor and now part of the export council. if state representative drew springer represents almost the
largest district in texas and it's larger than 74 countries and is more than twice the size of massachusetts. nc also chair of the agriculture committee in state legislator which i understand has been getting quite a bit of buzz. we will talk about that.t. welcome. [applause] want to set the stage here and i think we probably have a non- agricultural audience here and probably jeanine in as well there are only about 2 million people in the country that are directly farming so a lot of people without their eating wearing fiber and using the fuey engaged in the industry as much as we used to be so there's a big disconnect and most are not the about agriculture everyday
but there's a lot going on and i was hoping each of you could set the stage of where you think we are right now in the agriculture sector. there's been a lot of bad newsto and the trade war and the impact has had crazy weather this year but where are things in the industry and what is the mood and sentiment and what is going on that those outside of agriculture are not tuned into. i will start with you, commissioner. >> is over 100 billion-dollar industry run inside jobs is related agriculture in the state. with the the state in exports, goats, hey, the list goes on. ag hasef already's the second largest industry but even before we had an oil and gas industry ag has been the glue that held our state together from the earliest settlers to the longhorn cattle drives. it's been the driving force for our state.
let me tell you why i think it's important and we talk about usmc a talk about tariffs and trade. laredo, texas there are 17 points of entry. that's the largest inland port in the united states. one day at a time there are 14000 trucks going back and forth acrossor that. on a slow day it's about half a billion dollars worth of trade in on a busy day about $1 billion between the state of texas and mexico. agriculture is a big deal in our states and that's whyhy my department is a big department and i have to oversee a 6 billion-dollar budget and that's just a number but if i told you that mr. secretary that might but it was larger than the budget of 31 governors that put that in perspective so the largest thing we do at the moment of agriculture is i'm responsible for 5 million [inaudible] each day so we do
cows, plows and sows but we do a lot of other things you don't know about. were the best unknown agency in the state of texas. >> how are texas farmers doing right now? what is the sentiment? >> farming and ranching is always a struggle. i tell everyone i'm an eighth generation farmer and rancher and we have a couple more canoe years we might pay for it and that's the way it is in agriculture. we are struggling a little bit and we do have highlights we've had an uptick in the wild livestock industry coming back and the cattle business is looking good and we have [inaudible] on the horizon that everyone is excited about and we have our first productionur so e
are at a point inur state where i like to call it agriculture 3.0. 1.0 was subsistence farming when most of the farm and then we went to agriculture 2.0 and had the mechanization and we invented that combines an you went from farming 40 acres to 4000 acres and that's what we just did and now we are entering agriculture three-point oh and that's the technology age. now we are using gps tracking, global positioning, drones, we are doing more with vertical farming and the whole thing is changing.us one thing is constant in agriculture but in agriculture
we have this constantly produce more with less and that's our challenge. we lose about one farmer week here in texas with encroachment and your 2050 we will double the amount of food we produce in less land to do it on but agriculture is good about rising up to those challenges and we will continue to do that. >> secretary, where you see secretary right now? you have a good pulse on what's going on and you think the average consumer will understand? >> i want to complement the commissioner by his remarks began with a number of jobs connected to this industry. i think again people don't understand that when we take a look at the food and agriculture industry as a single industry areillion americans impacted directly by the industry and i makes it the
largest in the country. it's a big deal. agriculture is doing well people will be employed in exports are incredibly important. 30% of all that we produce export at 23 is directly related to exports of talk about trade agreements and tariffs is important. >> i would answer the question taken off with what commissioner said it depends on the timeframe you are talking about but if you talk about how things right now i think some folks are feeling stressed. as the commissioner indicated a couple years of pretty typical ic that had uncertainty in the trade area and so there's a bit of stress out there. however, if you look at the alarm long-term future it's amazingly positive and the commissioner mentioned the diversity of agriculture that we are saying hydroponics, organic, slim base materials but i think also as a talke about climate ad
the changing climate that we can talk about new revenue streams for farms. that opens up an exciting new future for farming generally that may make it more profitable and more consistently profitable that's the big challenge and farming is ups and downs.ng we are beginning to flatten those peaks and valleys out and prices are coming up and we had a record year in exports last year and a little bit of a challenge and our value is up significantly and were selling $900 million more in dairy that we did last year. >> it's pricey to hear about the trade war and lack of exports and you are finally way -- >> american agriculture is global in its scope. we send a lot south in terms of dairy we don't send as much north as we need to in canada my that u.s. mca is important. we sent to north africa you might find that surprisingg but
to southeast asia, japan, china and we send literally all over the world and as the world population grows and becomes more urbanized there will be greater demand for protein and dairy protein can satisfy a lot of that protein needs. i think long-term things will eretmuch better but right now there's a bit of stress out s there. >> continuing to build on that we have seen agriculture is the early tech industry and we went from one person on the farm and one in the city to now we will see that growth from the 48 rows to the gps is driving from that standpoint and in the dairy industry with her talk about announcing a dairy farm that has because labor is harder and harder to get.
we are seeing drones that can flyy and identify which cow is hot and needs treatment rather than treating the entire pen of 1000 cows with antibiotics we have healthier food to eat and not overmedicating and doing the same thing with irrigation and be able to test the soil rather than where we used to spend 22 inches of water on constant were now down to 12 inches so receiving those innovations come through. at the same time we have those challenges. one challenge is i think were seen in our cattle industry basically half the state of texas ag industry is back and we're seeing a breakdown of the commodity board and class action lawsuits going on and folks are going to the auction barns and are not getting paid a free price and it's clear there's been inflation going on and the federal government has notther addressed that but over the next couple of years we have to do
that or else we will see 20 folks going broke. >> do you think the folks in your district are generally optimistic about the direction of agriculture?ouon touch on the stress and low commodity prices are climbing, they put a lot of farmers in a risky situation or get to the next year. >> the guys that are in itit iso that and always optimistic and is not a more optimistic -- >> especially in texas get more worried about the young farmers and how can they afford to get in when an acre is my home county of 40000 people is well over $5000 an acre. you have to take on debt service to raise cattle in that climate you get to be tough to do that and that's where we face our bigger challenges. >> it sounds like there's a optimism which i hear from as
well and i think there's been a lot of coverage and narrative around the financial stress and the impact of the trade war in the moment that agriculture is in and national media coverage has been arounded what is that mean politically and that in the lex next election farmers and ranchers might pull away from president trump and there's been such a strong constituency and no one is talking about that level of -- [laughter] >> you read the stories and it very strongly presented that president trump is at risk of losing this constituency not that farmers and ranchers are losing elections but it's an example of [inaudible] for the president during an agriculture. >> i suspect that's more local than it is national. i got to member i'm in texas so
this will be hard for me to say here but the reality is where i come from people are deeply concerned about the renewable fuel standard and the fact tha that -- briefly state what that is smack basically the established minimum levels of ethanol blended into our fuels and biofuels. >> we are using it and you not might be thinking about it consumers. >> actually using it but from a midwestern farmers perspectiveca as much as we could. there has been some uncertainty of where the demonstration is how mothery they are more inclined to focus on their midwest farmers and i think that issue more so than the trade and difficult prices could potentially drive farmers to different political decision. i think farmers generally are willing to understand the necessity of going after china and they have questions about
whether or not we whenever it the right way by ourselves as opposed to a coalition of nations where we could have potentially been more successfuu and they understand china is not playing by the rules and thatth someone had to call them on it. they're willing to be patient in that respect but the ethanol industry and issue with corn prices are not what they need to be in jobs are lost and causing stress and concern. >> i think that's right but were close to close a deal on that with the presidents whereabouts and eye contact with them and the administration and they want to take care of the corner farmers. they do not mean for the waivers to get out and they done really good stuff for the agriculture industry with less regulations and all of that and we will get to the point in the interview real quick for this and it will be resolved and the mums will be required to restore thosed ways of ethanol amounts.
ethanol is y vital to our natiol curity and helps us be energy independent so i think we are almost there on that, mr. secretary. >> keep your fingers crossed. >> one thing i would add is how it will affect in my district which is 86% before resident trump and they are sitting there looking at the alternative saying we've got a testament down here opposed to the oil and gas industry well if you farming and ranching odds are you might have an amount below that but on the inside if you're a presidential candidate saying they want to illuminate by having a cow tax to make sure the only super elite can afford to eat cattle. they sit back and look at it from the standpoint and once again that's the big driver in texas. not big in the cotton or i'm
sorry, corn and soybeans from that same point but i can tell you they are not wavering for president trumpde. >> i have a lot of interviews where the farmers are sticking with trump with tariffs and all the fellows we are going through with china and i think farmers get it in the long run. we made a huge mistake from a business point that you should never allow anyone customer to have 60% or more of your business and that's what happened with china. when you do that they can get you. we've always been any trade war with china. i think farmers understand in the long run will be a lot better off by spreading out our risk and being less reliant on one big customer so in my department we have been hustling not to find a new market and not just return from ten days in
india and here i'll be leaving to go to vietnam so we are out hustling those new markets. friendly, if we can replace that market we lost i'll get if we send china anything else ever again. we got to spread our risk. >> that's easy from a guy from texas to say but the soybean farmers will have a different time finding an alternative market for what they sold to china. there's just no way.be that's a challenge. >> that's a lot of consumers but to your point there has been a shift toward being or to having your eggs in a different basket and not having if you have one trading partner that will completely decimate in one year. >> [inaudible] we are dividing that out inviting these customers and we been pretty successful at it.
>> that way if you have one angry customer you can replace -- >> we will be less reliant on china. >> i hear a lot more you see reflected. >> folks will need patience with china. it is still unclear as to what our position is relative to china. are we trying to disengage our economies from the chinese economy and say we are closely linked to the commissioners point and rv trying to disengage and go to the rest of the world or trying to change their way of doing business so we can do business more easily with them. >> we are asking them to essentially change the way they do business in their own country and that's a heavy lift. that's why these negotiations have been difficult but it's also difficult because we went along. we spent time building an alliance with european, japanese, koreans and folks in south america and it would have been more difficult, not
impossible, but to put the bull's-eye on american farmers. i think the administration recognizes that it is trying to reach outor to see if they can t some support from the eu because i was over in europe and in european official came up to me and said thank you for what you're doing over there. as long as you are hustling with china there buying our stuff. they're not buyingwe from you bt from us. if you succeed and get them to change the rules he will benefit from that, too. we get the best of both worlds and don't pay a price. >> one thing that might be good to explain about the general dynamic is one of the reasons agriculture is so vulnerable and trade of any kind as we are so efficient at production and so good at selling our products that we have a surplus and have long had a surplus compared to other industries. we are importing way more clothing but exporting way more agricultural goods than we are importing which means if you're fighting with us you're like that's the thing to target.
i th sometes folks don't fully understand that but that is why agriculture is so vulnerable because -- >> you know, the part of that is the efficiency of the market place working with china and america are getting along and yes, we deal directly with them. ... 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 and 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 f >> you might go out of business. that's the frustrating thing
about farming. we do have the best that ever was. >> good news. good news. just this last week, correct me on the numbers, but i think it was 750 million tons of soybeans. >> 750,000. >> how much was it? >> 750,000. that's a good star >> except we normally would sell 7 billion. >> yeah, but they are starting to buy our beans again. >> i think, yeah, a few years ago it was like 14 million. >> yeah. >> so, you know, it is like a small step because over the summer, after talks broke down, they stopped buying a lot of -- >> you got to get started. that's a pretty good start. >> yeah, i know, everyone is really anxious -- we can talk about trade all day. i want to come back to 2020. i think your point what's the alternative is an interesting one. you don't hear agriculture talked about a lot in
presidential debates, whether they are primaries or general, it is not a major issue, which i think sometimes some are both happy about and not happy about. you want to be an important major election issue, but also sometimes it is helpful to not have it be politicized. we have seen in the democratic party a little bit 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 know how many are left, have put agriculture in plans. they are starting to talk about a little bit more. i know secretary vilsack you have been beating this drum for a long time in the democratic party trying to get more conversation. does anyone see anything encouraging about having agriculture mentioned more? like soil management came up in a debate recently. do you think that's a good thing for agriculture? or does it threaten to politicize some of these issues
further? >> if you live in iowa, i can tell you that agriculture, rural development is discussed every day on the campaign trail. i doesn't necessarily percolate into the national media. >> it's not coming to the debate stage. >> but in the local media, it is all the time. candidates are talking about it which i think is a positive thing. i think they are talking about it in a positive way too. they are talking about additional revenue opportunities that can be created through agriculture. i mean, with all due respect to folks in brooklyn, new york, you can sequester a whole lot more brooklyn iowa than you can in brooklyn new york. the reality we are going to get serious about climate, we are going to start figuring out how farmers will be encouraged to do the farming practices that will allow us to sequester carbon in the soil, improve soil health, expand revenue opportunities for farmers and increase productivity of the soil. that's a good, positive thing. i think more and more folks are talking about that. they are also talking about in the dairy industry the belief
that we can within a reasonable period of time get to aet zero emission future where we would actually generate more revenue for dairy farmers than they get today just from their milk. just ima aay when farmers are paid for the methane they capture and convert it into electricity. they take the manure, reclaim the water, use solids to produce a wide variety of chemicals and materials. they get paid for those because they are new products. now you have got multiple profit centers coming out of american agriculture. i think that's the bright new future that we're going to see. >> i want to come back to climate and talk a little bit more about practices and trends and things, but does anyone -- let's have our texans weigh in here. do you see anything positive or negative about having presidential candidates talk about ag more? i know we're going through a democratic primary right now. >> personally i would like to see them talk about it a lot more.
we have, you know, our goal -- as a matter of fact our slogan since i have become commissioner is texas agriculture matters. the problem is i talked about 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 where the food comes from. by doing that, we create healthy eating habits. so yeah, i think the more they talk about it, the better. and help those understand the issues that face our industry, the agriculture industry, our labor issues, our tariff issues, you know, all our struggles with the, you know, drought and floods and hailstorms and i think they would be a lot more sympathetic to our issues, especially up on the hill, when we, you know, for whatever we're working on, our labor issues, i think if they understood us better, we would get along a lot better >> you know, the problem with
the primary side that we're in right now is they are talking to their base. their base is excited when they say let's -- >> actually that's not politically popular at all. >> then you go to the gmos, let's eliminate those. i've had people come up and say we need to eliminate gmos. you tell me which billion people in this world you are going to starve to death tomorrow if we end all gmos. >> i have read almost all the plans, i don't think any of them ban gmos. >> but they don't. >> it is a consumer sentiment you hear, i will grant you that. we have a great policy tracker if anyone is curious where you can actually go on politico.p com and see where all the candidates are on different issues from education, tech, food, agriculture. we added one on whether or not candidates support basically telling americans or urging
americans to eat less meat. that's the position. so i don't think anyone's come up with taxing, but they -- >> you can go to the twitter account and -- >> he did say eventually meat would become so expensive that production would go down. >> i have to put my 2 cents in on gmos. after i say this, i will probably never get invited back to this again. so gmos has been the best thing that's ever happened to our planet, for our environment. let me explain. so through gmos we have been able to change our farming practices and go to minimum till or no till. okay? >> explain what that means. that means you are disrupting the soil less. >> i'm getting there. hang on. by those practices, we have conventional farming where we decultivate and all that.
we use on average 5 gallons of diesel fuels per acre. gmos, genetically modified plants where we can go to no tilling to minimum tilling, we reduce that. we reduce the commercial fertilizer by 40%. okay? we're no longer turning the soil over. conventional farming when we turn the soil over, we release hydro carbons. every time you turn it over, you kill microbes in the soil. so gmos are not necessarily bad. they have been probably the most -- best advances in the environment in ag culture that i have seen in my lifetime, but they get a bad rap. >> here's my wish, consistency in science. the folks who are railing about gmos will tell you that the climate is changing. but the science is pretty clear
about that; right? i mean, wre getng warmer. there's no doubt about that. >> uh-huh. >> i talk to farmers and they say we're all for gmos but don't talk to us about climate change. we have to have consistency. either you are for gmos and you recognize the climate changes or you are against them and you don't think the climate is getting warmer. to me what's at stake here is a better understanding of the scientific process and better respect for that process because i think we have gotten to the point where we no longer trust science and to mehat's a dangerous situation because science has been responsible for significant advancements. if you start distrusting it, en you have some issues. >> let's pivot to climate then because that is really the context that agriculture is getting brought up the most in the democratic party in terms of farmers are at least getting mentioned on debate stages about being part of the solution. we touched a little bit on some of the practices. so if you're growing corn and
you're not tilling or you're doing minimum till, no till, you're reducing your -- you're not emitting as much carbon into the atmosphere and also then if you're maybe adding cover crops, you're planting a crop in between your rotation, you may be drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and essentially creating a carbon sink. so there's a lot of discussion around can you pay farmers and ranchers to sequester carbon and actually not only go t maybe neutral emissions but actually you could theoretically create a carbon sink. and agriculture could be paid for offsetting emissions from all of us driving around and, you know, riding our lawnmowers on our massive suburban lawns. you know, you would basically flip the table around from blaming agriculture for contributions to emissions and contributing to climate change like all of us are to being actually a very big part of the solution, and i think that's
kind of where it sort of is turning. but it's not really hit the mainstream, and i don't know if you see like a turning in terms of like 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 where you even like think about it in those terms? right now they are not paid for that. >> at the direction of the farm bureau, american farm bureau federation, the commodity groups got together and formed the farmer rancher alliance, and it represents virtually all the major commodity groups. they recently had a summit on a soybean farm in maryland, where there was a discussion about the future of agriculture, and there was a decision and commitment to work towards net zero emission future, with the recognition that to get there, society, the government, private sector, foundations, etc., are going to 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. we shod set up markets. that's the additional revenue streams i was talking about earlier. it is a tremendous opportunity here. you have got a lot of soil out there. that can be more productive, richer and healthier, if we basically sequester carbon. we have incredible research now going on in terms of the root system of commodities that could potentially not only store more carbon but actually maintain the storage of that carbon, even though a crop is harvested. i mean, there's a brave new world out there for us. but we have to have investments and research, publicly financed research, our land grant universities need more help and the government needs to recognize the important role that agriculture can play and provide the financial resources to make it happen. i think if you provide financial incentives i believe most farmers and ranchers will be more than happy to do their fair share. they always have. >> have you heard anyone talking about storing carbon or being
paid for carbon sequestration? is that a conversation that's happening right now? >> you know -- >> not really. not the issues that -- >> this is good. >> -- that the ag community is concerned about. >> i want him to be invited back. let's come in five years from now and ask that same question, i guarantee you they will be talking about it. >> go ahead. >> i was going to say, part of that challenge, though, is because it is a commodity crop is how does the rest of the world play in this, and does it go on the back end, or do we just add to the trillions and trillions we already have in federal debt to go deeper into debt to be able to do that? or does brazil and south america and does europe, do they buy into this deal where they will do the same type of requirements 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 is you put regulations, you put things on top of us that we have to compete in a global market, that's not a fair playing field. >> this isn't about regulation. this is about incentives, about providing resources, and right now european farmers are being paid for this, and it puts them at a competitive advantage in terms of how they sell their products. they get roughly 30% of their income guaranteed on january 1, for certain conservation practices. so our farmers are at a competitive disadvantage in terms of europe because they have a system right now that is paying for those practices. so i agree this is not about regulation because that won't work, but if you provide incentives, i believe there are enough farmers out there that would be very interested in looking at this. >> the question is -- >> we have sat here and said now it is one guy on the farm feeding hundreds of people in the city. the hundreds of people in the city realizes that incentive means you want to tax me to give it to him. are they willing to pay that tax
for that perceived value? that's really where it will play out in politics. >> i think if the government were paying for carbon sequestration, then you would definitely be setting up that dynamic. >> private sector. >> what seems to be the ideal that some people would hope we would move toward is you would have a market that would pay for carbon offsets. >> you have regulated industries now that would pay for that benefit. you also have corporations that out of a social responsibility are interested in investing. >> big companies like the wal-marts -- >> you have to be real careful about that comment about taxing because right now farmers are receiving a significant amount of payment through the farm bill. i don't think -- i don't believe that people consider that a tax. i think that they understand it is a payment that we make as a society in order to mape maintain the cost -- in order to maintain the cost of food which is really expensive in this country.
>> for security, they believe in doing that. i totally agree with that. but when it comes to climate, i think -- but they may get there. >> sticking to climate, i'm courses you if the texans feel that the conversation that agriculture is having around climate has changed at all after this year because it's been -- i mean we have had unprecedented number of acres that couldn't be planted. i think 20 million acres because there was some precipitation. you have really awful flooding in several parts of the country, that's still going on by the way. it's not really covered, but there's thousands and thousands of acres, farmland under water still in several places. i mean we just had imelda drop 40 inches of rain in a couple of days and flood southeast texas. i mean, do you think there's any different -- is there any shift happening in the conversation around maybe don't even call it climate change but a change in climate, right? some of these terms are really
politicized. i find if i call a farmer asking about a change in climate it's different than talking about climate change. do you think there's any change happening, like in the conversation you are hearing? >> not really. i mean, we're used to, you know, hurricanes and tropical storms. i mean, that's not the exception. it is kind of the norm. we have those. so it's not something new. perhaps it is something we should be talking about, but i travel the state a lot and travel a lot around the nation, and the question just doesn't come up in the crowds i speak to. they are more worried about tariffs and h 2-a, labor issues. >> kind of the more immediate. >> i think on the federal, they are more worried about the tariffs. at the local, state level, my farmers and ranchers are more concerned about their property rights and imminent domain and property taxes and those issues than -- i mean, they just
massively dwarf any conversations about what's going on with the climate. >> it sounds like you think this will change in agriculture, that there's a simmering -- u.s. farmers and ranchers put out an ad recently about farmers and ranchers are positioned to be the solution to climate change. i believe that's the call to action from the those commodity groups, but i don't hear as much from -- >> i this it will change. -- i think it will change. i think 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. then day is coming. -- and that day is coming. think there is a way in which we can showcase that to the rest of the world. i will tell you, i travel and i know the commission r does too overseas, and the reality is consumers both domestically here and internationally have become more interested in where their food comes from, how it is produced and whether it's sustain bly produced. >> i agree with that.
>> they will be demanding more information about this. to the extent american agriculture can be the leader i sustainability, can create the ability to say we are net zero emission products we are selling to you, i think it would be a marketing advantage for us in the future. i think it's coming. it's certainly not on the grassroots now, but i think it is coming. >> to the point, where your food comes from is important, probably the number two thing i've heard about in the last -- especially in the last year during session is food labelling. where's my food come from? is it when it says it's meat, is it really meat? is it a burger? is it a burger? you know, we now not only have, you know, plant-basedprein, that the ingredients to their burger looks like dog food ingredients list, and you have the ceo of whole foods down here saying it's not healthy for you because it's so super processed. but consumers need to know -- >> it sounds like you are not buying those products.
let's clear that up right here. >> the technology to where they are going in and taking cells and growing them in a petrie dish and you have gone to an $11 hamburger. on a webinar a week ago or -- >> that's news to me. >> i thought it was 200 bucks >> the cost is coming down. that's fine. somebody may say i would rather eat a petrie dish hamburger knowing that cow didn't pass gas out in texas instead i know a whole lot of people who say no, i don't trust that. when i eat a hamburger, i want to know it walked on god's green earth. >> it comes back to this question of technology and science and sort of how willing people are to go down that road. we're going to take a couple questions from the audience. i just want to have you guys percolate some ideas while we continue to talk about plant-based meat, and we're also
going to talk about hemp really quick. we will open it up. keep those in mind. >> the labelling issue is a really important one. i think, you know, part of the problem is that the reason why you want to use the term meat or in my case with dairy, they want to use the term milk is because consumers believe that that term carries with it a guarantee of certain nutritional value. if you're drinking a glass of milk, you think you are getting amino acided s -- acids and vitamin d. to the extent that people want to use these terms, at the very least, the very least, they need to be nutritionally equivalent, and they are not today so they shouldn't be allowed to use the term. >> the federal government is looking at this. >> in the committee we call it nut juice instead of almond juice. >> right, look -- >> some companies do call it
almond beverage versus almond milk. i mean there is some debate about how -- >> the law requires them to do that, and that's the frustrating thing for farmers. the fda has a rule that says you can't use the term milk unless it comes from an animal. okay? >> but they will do it almond milk one word or soy milk -- >> i'm told there are only four almonds in a quarter of almond milk. i don't know if that's right. >> i can't provide a fact on that. on the plant based, there's a lot of excitement around this, in terms of like wall street. there's an ipo for beyond meat and the stock is going nuts. now there's fast-food companies that are carrying, you know, the beyond burger, which are made from different plant based -- and they do tend to be highly processed. they are mimicking meat. there's excitement. however, per capita meat consumption has been going up for a long time.
it is not like american consumers have just been, you know, mass exiting away from meat and dairy. per capita dairy consumption is also going up. people are just eating, you know, yogurt and cheese and, you know, eating dairy in different forms, but they are not drinking as much fluid milk. there's a lot of i think shifting and sort of consumer tastes that are changing really rapidly and i hear a lot about that. but i want to add that one note, that it is not like we have abandoned dairy as a country. >> no, no, no. >> or meat, we are still consuming a lot of meat and dairy. >> it is just truth in labelling. >> we hear the debate a lot. should you even be able to call ate burger? -- call it a burger? >> call it protein. >> yeah, it is unclear. there's research to support both
sides, whether or not consumers arcoused about whether impossible burger is beef or not is open for debate. >> you need to give consumers the information. let them make a choice. let the market decide. the other thing that's concerning about labelling is the deceptive negative labelling. when you see milk that says gluten free -- >> or gmo free. >> yeah, you know, it suggests that the carton next to it that doesn't contain those labels that it probably does contain those things. well it doesn't. to me it is not only the issue of making sure you use terms properly but also we're very careful about the negative claims. >> there's a lot of misconception. >> look, whole milk is one of my favorites we talk about because everybody thinks 2% is so much less fat than whole milk. they don't realize it is just 1% more. >> by the way, whole milk, a lot of people haven't had it and then they taste it --
>> and there's new milk technologies coming out with processing, long-term shelf life, now bottling. my wife could put a little bit in her coffee and now getting 5 grams of protein in a cup of coffee. >> and less sugar and less fat. lutely >> here's what i don't uns understand. >> go ahead. >> plant based meats and meat substitutes, you know, all the vegetarian stuff, if they don't like meat, why are they trying to make the vegetables taste like meat all the time? [laughter] >> i don't have the answer for you on that. >> okay. it doesn't make any sense to me. >> maybe someone in the audience can answer that question. we are going to open it up. i tnk there's a mic somewhere to take questions. yes, because there is a live stream so people are watching. let's see, we're going to pick right there in the striped shirt. >> hello. my name is nora.
i run farmers markets in stin. run some of the biggest farmer markets in texas. i work with a lot of farmers and ranchers. they are small. my ranchers have 100 to 300 heads of cattle. they are not having conversations with me that are specifically, you know, i want to do carbon sequestration to combat climate change but they recognize the drought in texas are getting longer and the rain cycles are getting more intense. and they don'tave the time to have long conversations with you. they don't have the money to put out marketing campaigns. but i have a long wait list of ranchers who want to get into our farmers markets who want to transition to grass-fed more sustainable beef, and they feel that at the state and federal level, they are not getting support. what i want to hear from you guys is how can these smaller guysith 100, 200 heads of cattle who are transitioning who are currently bearing the majority of the costs and trying to get into these markets, how
is the state and federal government helping them because they have a smaller voice and the big guys who have 200 heads of cattle in your district? >> i will be glad to tackle that because that's kind of my job. >> i think that was directed at you. >> first of all, someone that has 1 or 200 head of cattle is not a small operator. the average herd in the state of texas is about 32 head. that's average. a small herd, you know, is 15 to 20. so we really try hard at the texas department of agriculture -- i like to say we don't pick winners and losers. we like to pick winners and winners. we're for organic, grass fed, cage free chickens and conventional. we're for everybody winning. one of the things we have done is most successful. when i took over the school nutrition, instead of having healthy kids, we had healthy
trashcans. they wouldn't eat that stuff. when i went around the state and talked to nutritionists and said why don't you participate in our farm fresh friday program. that's something we challenge at least on fridays, something local. go down to your farmers market and get with a farmer. they would say, you know, we don't have a farmers market or we don't have time to go down there, we would love to serve local, it is too difficult for us. so we set up a system where we were buying zero local product from my local farmers and ranchers in texas and we set up a clearinghouse and we have summer conferences and we bring all the cafeteria people in and bring the farmers in who want to sell to the schools, last year our schools bought 58 million dollars worth of local products from our local farmers and ranchers where they were buying zero before. this is a win-win for everybody because no added salt, no additives, no preservatives, no dyes, served fresh, and for the most part, it's cheaper when you cut out the middleman. a lot of it is organic. that's one of the things.
you think we're not doing anything. i would say that's one of our beer suc is getting local products in our schools because t farmers win. the kids win. the taxpayers win because they are paying less. so that's one of those -- that's one example. we've got a lot of examples like that. >> what i see is the biggest challenge is really the food distribution network and the large retailers. it's easier to deal with the few skus and not have a lot. i have several ranchers in our district. i have small meat processors and not a lot left in this country. there are four guys who are doing grass fed and then doing home delivery and partnering up with restaurants to be able to take it from there, so they are finding those ways around that. but, you know, when wal-mart and your big suppliers that only want to deal with two meat producers or packers bringing it up and don't want to have different skus at every one, that's some of the challenges.
>> i understand some of the challenges. i asked what you guys are doing -- [inaudible]. >> they are telling me it is working for them. they are building that business. >> what i'm saying i have a wait list who needs help from the state level to sale their products because they are not buying it on a massive scale. what is the state doing to better promote this? you are sitting here saying -- when she asked you the question directly, is carbon capture and climate change an issue for your ranchers? you are saying no. i'm someone who works with farmers and ranchers every single day and i'm saying yes, it is. what are you going to do to help them? >> couple more things -- we work real hard to do exactly what you are asking. if you run the farmers markets, you know where we make sure that
it is local produce and locally sourced meats and dairies and we're very strict on that. we promote the farmers markets. we work real hard at that. we have the go texan program. we kicked off the state fair yesterday where we have a 20,000 square foot building full of our go texan members products, nothing but texas all comes from texas. it is all local. we sold over $350,000 worth last year and we had 11 of the 24 days that were rained out. we work real hard with the go texan program. it's been very very successful. we are celebrating our 20th year. when i became commissioner, we had 800 members. we are up to 1700 now. we do really work -- you may want see it, but i promise you we are working real hard to promote ag culture in our farmers and the products in this state. >> sounds like you should chat after too. >> this is a really important point. a lot of people don't realize what the federal government is doing. i'm going to tick off a couple of these programs.
we created a micro loan program to help the small guys to be able to access credit at a more affordable rate of interest. we created the farm to school program which basically works with school so they understand how to purchase fromocal producers. wead a farmers market promotion program which gives grants to farmers markets. we have a local regional food promotion program which gives grants -- okay, that's all designed to help those people you are talking about. we had a crop insurance assistance program. what's missing from this equation is the development of ecosystem markets that can be supported by government, right, initially, to allow foundations, to allow corporations to donate or to purchase credits for water conservation, for carbon sequestration, for 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. >> it's not clear where that is at usda right now. >> i'm only talking about what we did when i was -- >> i want to keep moving. yeah yeah yeah. i want to keep moving so we can get more questions. right here in the peach tank top. >> really great stuff. i'm a native iowan who moved to austin about 35 years ago. >> you don't tell a former governor that you moved -- [laughter] >> she did it before you were governor. [laughter] >> and i'm an entrepreneur in austin who recently bought some ground to go plant things, and i'm very deeply interested. you said we're going to talk about hemp. i'm deeply interested in the context of the legislature, you know, taking those first steps towards making it possible to start cultivating hemp in the state. what do you collectively and you specifically, commissioner, see as the opportunity there for farmers here in texas? >> keep your answers short so we
can keep moving. >> short answers. >> keep your answers short and sweet so we can ken moving. -- keep moving. >> it's one of the bright spots that we're looking forward to. we're waiting on the federal guidelines to come down so we can start writing our rules so we can start issuing permits. we are going to diligently do our very best to have those permits out and ready for spring anting. it's going to be highly regulated, not by the state, but the federal government, and it probably should be. we haven't been able to grow hemp in the state even on the research basis because it was classified as a narcotic. that's been removed and taken off the narcotics list so we can participate in the program now. we're a little bit behind because we haven't been in on the, you know, research part of it, but we will catch up, and we will create a hempire in texas.
i promise you. we will be number one. >> i fully expect they will do a great job in getting the rules and regulations out in time for the spring crop. my biggest thing, and the secretary and i talked about it beforehand, is we have a lot of land. we can overproduce what the producer cans process. -- what the producers can process. that's always my concern, $10,000 what they are making last year, you can get close to $200 an acre with what corn makes really fast. so, you know, talk to your neighbors. selk to those, but we want to that succeed in texas. >> one of the things we're considering when we issue those permits is to get a permit, you're going to have to have a contract to sell it. we want to prevent the overproduction, exactly what you are talking about. >> yeah. >> if you don't have a buyer, you're not going to get a permit. >> can't get too excited about hemp because if everyone grows it, then no one will grow it. yes, go ahead. >> hey, how are you guys doing?
i'm happy that you are here to talk about one of the world's most important issues, what are we going to eat and how we're going to eat it. and two-part question. question one, dealing with monsanto and their regulations, because a lot of farmers have been threatened by them and been put out of business by them, due to them having the intellectual property and copy right over the seeds, as well as the planting distribution. question two, aqua ponics, as the environment continues to diminish or the irregularities in the climate change, if urban farming going to become a thing, what will be the regulations on that and aqua ponic farming? >> who wants to take that? >> i will take the second part of it on hydroponics, yeah, it
may become urban but there's a place outside of a city in texas, that grows 50 acres of green house, hydroponics, that grows 1500 acres worth of tomatoes. so i think we're going to see this. i don't know anything that we're doing in texas that's slowing that down from that aspect. now, your question may start getting into tax policy, which is if you are sitting on half an acre, doing this, do i get tax add valuation? i would have to bring in the chairman in here to talk about ways and means, if we want to have that conversation. >> zoning is also an issue. >> zoning is also an issue. my problem with the monsanto question is cattle and cotton are the kings, that's not an issue i run into from the intellectual property. >> i think there are two answers to your question. first of all, the reality is, the reason why monsanto did what it did is because it invested a
tremendous amount of money developing those seeds, and so we have seeded too much -- we have ceded too much of our research to the private sector. we need more publicly financed research that could then be available for entrepreneurs to create new seed technologies that wouldn't be quite as expensive and the second issue is, in this day and age of change, our patent laws that provide protections for an extended period of time, somebody really needs to look at those to ask the question whether in this day of rapid change, whether providing years and years of protection makes sense. maybe it needs to be a shorter period of time, again, to be able to provide that foundation research available to more people, less expensively, but as long as you eat basically -- as long as you basically cede the responsibility to the private sector, and they invest millions of dollars to create those seeds, they are going to try to figure out a way to recoup their investment.
i think that'fair. >> research is actually going down in real dollars compared to what other countries are making. on that note -- >> real quick, on the hydroponics, i have seen probably in the last 24 months growing faster than about any sector in agriculture, from people getting ready to grow hemp to -- i will give you an example of just one company. there's many. the' o a company where they have a concept whey are putting up 20, 30 extra green houses, every wal-mart distributioncenter, they have 18 to 20 foot vertical walls in those green houses growing fresh vegetables, leafy greens, and from the time they harvest it till it gets on the shelf in wal-mart, it's less than 24 hours. that's kind of where we're going. there's many more on that same kind of business concept. there's a lot that are opening back up. there's a million square foot up
near benton that they are renovating. they are going to grow hemp. it's really booming right now. >> on that positive note, i'm told we are out of time and heise i would take your questions for the next 30 men outs -- 30 minutes. you should all talk to these panelists and ask your question in person. big thanks again for the host of this and for pfizer sponsoring the politico tent for the texas farm bureau for supporting that. i hope you stick around and enjoy more festival offerings and thank you very much for joining us. [applause]
>> we can nights this week -- weeknights this we, we are featuring a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3. tonight the founders view on slavery are discussed. the james madison memorial fellowship foundation hosted the event tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span 3. enjoy american history tv this week and every weekend on c-span 3. >> our c-span bus team is travelling across the country visiting key battleground states in the 2020 presidential race, asking voters what issues they want presidential candidates to address during the campaign. >> congress and washington
should do more to address the climate crisis because defense spending or any other partisan divide will not matter if we don't have a planet to live on. >> and i think a really important issue that washington needs to address is lgbtq equality when it comes to the federal level and protecting them under discrimination because right now they are not protected under the constitution, say i want to get a job and i'm a bisexual woman, somebody could fire me because i'm gay. that needs to come to the forefront. >> the political system overall needs to address the development of new technologies and having some kind of public input on these. these are, you know, there are technologies coming out about, say, things like human gene editing which to some people is very scary or let's say development of algorithms on the internet and how those affect the information we see.
big technological developments, yet there is not a clear scientific consensus on what we ought to do. so i think that as a political system, there is a certain obligation to have some kind of conversation about these big issues and decide collectively what we ought to be doing as a society. >> i think we have a lot of issues at the federal level right now, but one that we really share a lot about with my constituents and just throughout the state is gun safety. it's a big issue. people are very interested in stronger background checks, and i think that's very important, and no one is interested in taking away any guns. je was want to make sure -- we just want to make sure they don't get in the hands of wrong people. i think we need stronger restrictions on automatic weapons because they are not a sporting gun. they have one purpose, and that is to kill. think we need to pay strong attention to that issue. >> voices from the campaign trail, part of c-span's
battleground states tour. >> next, a panel discussion on some of the challenges law enforcement officials face trying to prevent domestic terrorism. we will hear from a former homeland security advisor to president obama. at this event hosted by the texas tribune festival. >> thank you for being here. this is titled from within, the topic on domestic terrorism. of course con spored by law fair -- of course sponsored by the law fair and university of texas. this will be 60 minutes l.ta we will leave time for questions. we already know some of you have some questions that you want to ask our all star panel here. secondly, in previous sessions, at the stival, whave heard some very interesting ring