Poultry, forestry, livestock, dairy, row crops, agribusiness, and agriculture education characterize the diverse and vibrant agricultural sector in Mississippi’s Third Congressional District. Throughout my first year in Congress, I visited with numerous members of the Mississippi agriculture community, including a farm tour with the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. These discussions have been formative in the development of my agriculture priorities, which include agriculture trade, transportation, and deregulation.
I am proud to have supported the recent trade accomplishments championed by Congress and the Trump Administration that will benefit Mississippi agriculture industries. I have used my voice in Congress to advocate for the adoption of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), speaking on the House floor multiple times in support of the agreement and signing a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking that the USMCA be brought for a vote. President Trump signed the USMCA into law on January 29, 2020, paving the way for expanded export markets with two of our largest trading partners. In 2019, I also urged the Administration to protect Mississippi hardwood producers and American Southern yellow pine in Chinese trade negotiations. I applaud President Trump’s leadership in securing Phase One of a trade deal with China in January 2020 that will benefit Mississippi timber products and open new markets for our state’s poultry industry. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I have highlighted the importance of including agriculture in a possible trade agreement with the European Union and will continue to promote this opportunity.
Additionally, I have worked to advance agriculture transportation needs. I cosponsored legislation that would update hours of service regulations for livestock and agriculture haulers, as well as legislation that would support apprenticeship programs to help train young agriculture drivers. I also have supported legislative action to delay implementation of the Electronic Logging Devices regulations that limit eligible driving hours and require drivers to comply with a mandatory, 10-hour break period, even if they are within a short distance of their destination. I understand that these forced delays can have many costly and adverse effects.
Lastly, I have asked the Administration to use its available authorities to reduce unnecessary regulations that impede a productive agricultural economy. I signed a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) asking the agency to remove certain birds, including the double-crested cormorants, from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These birds destroy aquaculture ponds, and Mississippi farmers have little recourse to protect their ponds and their livelihoods. Our outreach made a difference. I am pleased that the FWS recently released a proposed rule that will increase the maximum take of these cormorants by nearly 20,000 annually. I also have asked the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its 2008 veto of the Yazoo Backwater Area Pumps Project and help alleviate future high-water events in Mississippi’s South Delta to protect this important farmland. I have supported our logging industry, asking the U.S. Department of Labor to exempt young loggers from burdensome Fair Labor Standards Act regulations when participating in their family logging business.
As I begin another year in Congress, I will continue to support legislation that promotes Mississippi agriculture. I look forward to continuing to work with Mississippi Farm Bureau and our strong Mississippi delegation to advance trade, transportation, deregulation and other issues of importance to our state’s agriculture community.
See more: Mississippi Farmers are Resilient
About the author: Congressman Michael Guest represents the 3rd District of Mississippi in the United States House of Representatives.