In depth interviews with leaders in ag policy
This week’s Open Mic guest is Todd Van Hoose, president and CEO of the Farm Credit Council. Van Hoose is grateful Washington delivered an extension of the 2018 farm bill but joins a chorus of other agriculture organizations calling for new policy to be approved in early 2024. He says USDA loan programs and limits should be adjusted to reflect higher operating costs in today’s agriculture economy. The Council has mounted a challenge against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over language requiring the collection of data that Farm Credit says is already available through the Ag Census. Van Hoose discusses the need for base acre and reference price adjustments as well as needed assistance for young and beginning farmers.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Terry Cosby, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. After more than 40 years of working with landowners across the country, Cosby has seen a number of policy changes toward preserving the environment and improving soil health. Cosby says he is invigorated to see an emphasis on sustainability in modern agriculture practices and is grateful to have additional funds under the Inflation Reduction Act to serve more applicants for essential programs nationwide. Cosby says conservation policy can never be “one size fits all” but endeavors to employ the best conservation practices on every acre in the nation and ensure that his agency is mindful of diversity, equity and inclusion.
This week’s Open Mic guest is EPA Agriculture Advisor, Rod Snyder. The Environmental Protection Agency often finds itself in the middle of converging opinions on pesticides, fuel and clean water issues. With 20 years of experience working for farm groups, farm associations and the chemical industry, Snyder is often the practical voice of reason at the agency’s decision making process. Snyder says flat budgets and a smaller staff make it difficult for the agency to accomplish its heavy work load. On crop protection products, Snyder stands by the work of EPA scientists and the safety protocols they employ. Snyder says his door is open to the agriculture community to voice their support and concerns.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Duvall is aware of the limited opportunity the congressional calendar affords for farm policy discussion on Capitol Hill, but that’s not keeping him and other farmers from pressing elected leaders for a new farm bill. The Georgia farmer says AFBF members support risk management tools that reflect the price structure of today’s farm economy and support effective nutrition programs for those in need. Duvall says the organization's resolutions process is underway for the policy delegates will consider at their annual meeting in January in Salt Lake City. In this interview, Duvall discusses expanding crop insurance, the farm labor workforce, energy and trade policy and ongoing negotiations with the EPA over the new Waters of the U.S. definition.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Congressman Jim Costa. The California Democrat represents the agriculture rich 21st district of the state. Costa is hopeful new leadership in the House will lead to compromise on fiscal and agriculture policy. Costa shares concerns about the “pay fors” needed for a new farm bill but says minority members on the Agriculture committee will not support cuts to either nutrition programs or IRA conservation funds. Costa says he would support an extension of the 2018 farm bill, but says legislators should forge ahead with a new farm bill as soon as possible.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jason Clay, executive director of the Markets Institute for the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF has worked for more than 60 years in over 100 countries with a mission of helping people and nature survive. Clay’s roots stretch back to a family farm, and his vision is that of helping to ensure an adequate supply of food for generations to come. He says the response to climate change must be to develop gains in efficiency and productivity to meet the growing demand for food. On ag policy, Clay says the group supports modern farming practices and large-scale agriculture and is actively involved in lobbying for a new farm bill with certain changes in program outcomes.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Todd Wilkinson, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The South Dakota producer is glad to see the profitability pendulum swing back in the beef producer's favor. He is concerned about the health of the overall industry during this period of herd rebuilding. Wilkinson sees much riding on the approval of a new farm bill from a producer protection standpoint as well as critical conservation programs. He and other industry members are just back from the World Meat Congress where antagonists to the meat industry were well defined.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla. The House Ag Committee member has joined her colleagues in the search for new leadership, but also believes many of her fellow Republicans could benefit from a reexamination of their approach to governing. Cammack has taken a special interest in the issue of broadband service for rural America, and with a new farm bill in the works, Cammack discusses some commodity program changes that would be a major benefit to her home state.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Dave Puglia, president and CEO of Western Growers. Challenges to the fresh produce industry are too numerous to mention, but food safety, an adequate workforce, water supply, crop protection tools and regulations continue to impact the future for Western Growers. Still, Puglia says legislators cannot simply “rubber stamp” an extension of the 2018 farm bill. Puglia laments the passing of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and shares his concern for the leadership shake-up in the House of Representatives.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Tim Lust, CEO of the National Sorghum Producers. Like other farmers, the nation’s sorghum producers are looking to Capitol Hill for an updated farm bill with adequate risk management tools to negotiate many financial, climate and market-based challenges. Lust says Washington has been tardy in delivering promised disaster relief funds much to the detriment of growers still facing dry soils. In this interview, Lust discusses regulatory challenges and market opportunities including renewable fuels and climate-based revenue options.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Ted McKinney, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Fresh off of the group’s annual meeting earlier this month in Wyoming, state ag leaders, along with the rest of the ag community are keeping an eye on Washington for signs of a path forward for a Fiscal Year 2024 budget and signs of life for a new farm bill. McKinney discusses both sides of a continuing resolution to keep the government running, frustrations with the Biden EPA over its development of a new definition of WOTUS, California’s Proposition 12, and the Biden Administration’s efforts on global trade.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rob Larew, President of the National Farmers Union. Several hundred farmers and ranchers from across the nation were in Washington last week to hear updates from the USDA and Congressional leaders. Larew says farmer attitudes are as varied as weather conditions across the country. Larew says Congress can’t simply rubber stamp the 2018 farm bill and expect to meet the needs of crop and livestock producers in today’s economic environment nor can they expect outdated programs and triggers to protect producers through what promises to be continued volatility in the years ahead. NFU members want to see changes in cattle price discovery and are adamant about seeing changes in beef labeling.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jackie Applegate, president of Bayer Crop Science North America. On the sidelines of the recent Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, Applegate discussed many of the company's latest efforts, including a collaboration to help fight hunger, the latest innovations from Bayer, new partnerships with other companies, ongoing challenges from regulations in the U.S. and pushback from technologies by other nations of the world. Applegate shares the need for public and private research to develop production techniques to achieve sustainability goals as well as increases in productivity.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill. On the sidelines of the 70th Annual Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, the House Ag Republican discussed the congressional agenda leading to the end of the fiscal year. Bost says the farm bill is critical to his district, and after spending time with House Ag Chair Glenn "G.T." Thompson, Bost believes new policy will be introduced soon after legislators return this month. In this interview, Bost discusses the nation’s infrastructure, broadband, electrical grid, renewable fuels and rural healthcare.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Tim Trotter, CEO of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative. It’s a perfect storm of policymaking as USDA has begun hearings to explore Federal Milk Marketing Order reforms and Congress is working to write a new farm bill. Dairy industry diversity is a blessing — representing various regions, size of operations and end uses for milk — but also marks significant challenges when considering producer supports and reform of marketing policy. Edge represents more than 800 members who ship primarily to private processors. Trotter says it will take a delicate balance to find the right solutions for both farmers and industry.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Adam Putnam, CEO of Ducks Unlimited. In this interview, Putnam outlines the headwinds facing the approval of a new farm bill and how important the language remains for the food and conservation needs of the nation. Ducks Unlimited is part of a diverse group representing agricultural, environmental, forestry, wildlife, nutrition and hunger advocates urging Congress to approve a farm bill this year. Putnam cites voluntary conservation programs with the nation’s farmers as a significant factor in increased waterfowl populations across North America.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Bruce Rastetter, founder and executive chairman of Summit Agricultural Group. Rastetter’s career includes feed sales, swine production and renewable fuels. In this interview, he speaks to headwinds to both the livestock production and renewable fuel sectors as well as opportunities for growth. He shares advice for future agricultural entrepreneurs and speaks to the need for a carbon pipeline and the ongoing challenges of gaining approval for its construction.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association. Despite the work of several government agencies and billions of dollars of taxpayer dollars invested, there is still a significant number of Americans without broadband or adequate bandwidth to support effective service. Bloomfield says hundreds of for profit and non-profit companies are working to close the digital divide, but there are numerous terrain challenges as well as regulatory headwinds from Washington that stand in the way of providing service to rural areas. Bloomfield comments on the USDA’s ReConnect program and other supports from Washington that are helping to bring service to rural America.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Don Davis, D-N.C. In his first term representing the state’s first district, Davis finds himself not only on the House Ag Committee but also helping to lead a bipartisan task force focused on agriculture labor issues and a farm bill task force of the New Democrat Coalition. Davis sees agriculture and rural issues as a priority for his district and the nation, but not the highest priority among elected leaders in Washington. Davis is committed to workable environmental policy for farmers and is anxious to see how the Biden administration will handle Waters of the United States rulemaking.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Dan Basse, president of AgResource. As Congress prepares to write a new farm bill, Basse says the industry is seeing domestication of market structure. Despite regulatory headwinds from Washington, Basse believes demand for renewable energy feedstocks will command a greater presence in price discovery. Globally, Brazil may be nearing an end to its rapid expansion of production area while the Russian invasion may see a tremendous decline in Ukraine grain production. Basse sees India as a rising opportunity for U.S. ag exports while China remains a wild card with both production and imports.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. The Biden administration’s vehicle emissions rulemaking is drawing fire from oil and agriculture industry groups over concerns the rule would be a de-facto ban on internal combustion engines in the future. RFA is one of more than 100 groups that wrote President Joe Biden recently asking for liquid transportation fuels and various engine technologies to be a part of the solution to meet the nation’s goals for reducing emissions. Cooper laments headwinds for renewable fuels from the last three administrations and says it’s time for legislation to define the regulatory role of the EPA.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. After an extended tenure of serving his constituents in Utah in the U.S. House of Representatives, Matheson assumed the reins of the NRECA in 2016. Rural residents formed their own electric cooperatives in the 1930’s to bring electric service to their homes and communities. Today, those same member owned organizations serve over half of the land mass in the nation and more than 42-million customers. Matheson speaks to the challenges of meeting growing demand for electric power including electric generation and transmission. He is in favor of renewable energy sources but says the nation needs reliable power generation in the face of growing demand from industry, homes and an influx of electric vehicles. Matheson says the digital divide is real in rural America and the NRECA is working to close the digital gap for the sake of health care, education, precision agriculture and rural development.
This week’s Open Mic guest is House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson. After spending time with yet another farm bill listening session, the Pennsylvania Republican spent time reflecting on listening sessions in 40 states. Thompson says it’s evident that farm programs provide critical risk management tools in every state as well as conservation programs, food safety and nutrition. He acknowledges the financial obstacles of writing new farm policy but shares thoughts of pulling funds from various resources to fund programs. Thompson also shares insights from a labor task force he has appointed to survey agriculture’s need for an adequate workforce.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Scott Hays, president of the National Pork Producers Council. As a fifth-generation pig farmer from Missouri, Hays says he’s gratified to see his children taking over the operation, but he recognizes the challenges facing his family and other operations across the country are more onerous than ever before. The economic climate has red ink flowing for producers this year with additional pressure coming from more regulations, challenging global market access, the threat of foreign animal disease and a lack of available labor. In this interview, Hays shares challenges and opportunities facing pig farmers in the nation today.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, the Washington representative says leaders have a responsibility to maintain the financial security of the country. Newhouse says the committee's fiscal year 2024 USDA-FDA spending plan is less than a year ago, but is a fair compromise given the nation’s growing debt. In this interview, Newhouse discusses foreign land ownership, nutrition programs, food waste and legislation he’s introduced to protect gas stoves in millions of homes across America.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Ryan LeGrand, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council. Larger world supplies, a challenging global economy and the threat of trade restrictions are all weighing on the U.S. Grains Council’s goal of growing markets for American farmers. LeGrand is pleased with the Biden administration’s actions to challenge Mexico’s import ban on genetically modified white corn and other biotechnology issues. LeGrand says a record Brazilian corn crop is being offered at prices more discounted than the U.S. supplies and more bushels of wheat are being utilized in feed rations. LeGrand says the council could certainly make good use of additional trade promotion funds if they're available in a new farm bill.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Chef José Andrés. The world-renowned, chef, author and humanitarian believes the power of food can change the world. Andrés recently announced a partnership with George Washington University to build a Global Food Institute to lead the world in food system delivery. Andrés says providing humanitarian food assistance may alleviate an immediate need for hungry nations or those experiencing tragedy, but a long-term investment is needed to support local farms and food systems. Andrés believes in a central government strategy focused on food to change people’s lives and the health of the planet
This week’s Open Mic guest is Neil Caskey, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association. At the time Congress is preparing to write a new farm bill, corn farmers are facing a period of high input costs and declining crop prices. Questions facing the future of ethanol consumption in the U.S. and challenges on the trade front with Mexico are all issues bearing down on corn farmers nationwide. Caskey says the country’s energy policy is also a concern and approval of the Next Generation Fuels Act is key to farmers and rural America.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Kevin Lucke, president of Chevron Renewable Energy Group. Chevron’s 2022 purchase of the Renewable Energy Group represents a significant paradigm shift in the energy industry, but the acquisition is just a portion of the global company’s effort to provide low-carbon fuels for its customers. Lucke sees tremendous potential in renewable biodiesel and is collaborating with industry and farmers to boost the production of renewable fuel in addition to their petroleum-based products. Lucke believes in an “all of the above” approach to the nation’s energy needs but sees tremendous growth potential in renewable fuels.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Meagan Kaiser, chair of the United Soybean Board. For more than 30 years, the soybean checkoff board has been investing farmer dollars to improve both opportunities and sustainability practices for soybean growers in the U.S. Kaiser says investments decades before in biodiesel and the food industry are now paying big dividends for growers, industry, the environment and consumers. Kaiser is just back from Rome and a meeting with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. She sees opportunity in the Farmers for Soil Health Partnership and praises the cooperation between USDA and agriculture groups to improve productivity and farmer contribution for a better environment.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Tom Ryan, President of Truterra. Sustainability has become a new hurdle for farmers, agribusiness, industry and policymakers to address. Ryan says the private industry willing to invest in sustainable agriculture practices are as diverse as the farmers and soil they till to meet the demands placed on their overall productivity. Truterra, the Sustainability Division of Land O Lakes is helping to bridge the opportunities of sustainable ag practices between those companies willing to invest and those farmers who have proven willing to embrace agronomic practices benefitting both productivity and sustainability. Ryan believes cooperation between farmers, USDA, ag retailers and industry can lead to shared success in environmental stewardship.
This week’s Open Mic guest is John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association. Corn products are in 80% of the food and nonfood items in grocery stores today. Bode says the global sustainability effort is opening the doors of opportunity for the industry. Corn refiners support a strong farm safety net in the new farm bill as well as an increased investment of public dollars in ag research. Bode sees China’s growing presence in agricultural trade as a challenge for U.S. farmers and the corn refining industry.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. Many in the dairy industry believe it’s time for the Federal Milk Marketing Order to be updated since much has changed in the industry over the last 23 years. The orders help guarantee an adequate supply of milk and dairy products as well as maintain orderly marketing decisions and there is disagreement in the industry on the extent of data that should be considered in the decision-making process. Mulhern describes the function of change and reasons NMPF believes this should be a more exhaustive process. He applauds progress on dairy product labeling but says legislation is needed to help consumers make educated decisions on the nutritional value of the products they buy.
This week’s Open Mic guest is U.S. Representative Tracey Mann. The Kansas “Big First” representative believes the 118th Congress can deliver a farm bill this year, but not without significant challenges beginning with the impasse over the nation's debt ceiling, out of sync reference prices and a chasm of concern over nutrition assistance eligibility. Mann has concern over China’s aggression toward Taiwan and the significant paradigm shift from dependence on foreign oil to key minerals to make batteries for electric vehicles. Mann says his constituents have concerns over government regulations and taxes on established farms and small businesses.
This week’s Agri-Pulse Open Mic guest is Karl Anderson, president of the Supporters of Agricultural Research Foundation. Since 2014, the SoAR Foundation has been working to increase public funding for agriculture research. Over the past few years, China, the European Union, India and other nations have continued to expand their work in food and agricultural research. During the same time, the number of U.S. researchers has fallen by more than 2,500. Anderson shares insight on the need for public dollars invested toward tomorrow’s innovation in food security.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind. The Senate Ag Committee member's efforts on Capitol Hill have proven him an effective leader on key issues pertaining to agriculture and rural America. Braun teamed with Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., on the Growing Climate Solutions Act; now, he’s lending support to the SAFE Food Act, renewable fuels legislation and a bill to offer a legislative definition of a “Water of the U.S.” On trade, Braun believes Canada and Mexico should be held accountable for violations under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. On Capitol Hill, he says the debt ceiling debate has major implications for the next farm bill and nearly every other area of the nation’s financial future.
This week’s Open Mic guest is, Minnesota Congresswoman Angie Craig. The 2nd District Democrat is a staunch supporter of both farm and nutrition programs and recognizes the challenge of meeting the needs of the nation while keeping an eye on overall spending. Craig supports Title 1 spending in the farm bill as well as crop insurance but says the biggest obstacle in writing new farm policy is protecting the interest of small and beginning farmers. Craig admits the nutrition title has a hefty price tag but doesn’t believe this is a time for Washington to turn its back on families in need. Craig supports renewable fuels and will again work in the new Congress to bring higher renewable blends to the nation’s consumers. Craig isn’t satisfied with the EPA’s new Waters of the U.S. definition and would like to see a stronger push by the Biden administration on gaining market access for the nation’s farmers and ranchers.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb. In this interview, Fischer explains the need for legislation to approve year-round sales of E-15 for the nation. She looks forward to crafting a new farm bill but admits nutrition will again be challenging for both sides of the aisle. She stands firmly against Mexico’s ban on genetically modified corn and says trading partners must be held accountable to their commitments. Fischer supports the nation’s checkoff programs and opposes legislation to add restrictions to their operations.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Virginia Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger. The 7th District Representative is a strong supporter of conservation, risk management and nutrition programs, but like others in the legislature, recognizes the budget constraints in writing new farm language this year. Spanberger says the implications of Russia’s attack on Ukraine and closer ties between Vladimir Putin and China are concerning. She sees the need for both border security and immigration reform. She shares concerns about an adequate work force. Spanberger believes minor changes could make the School Lunch Program and SNAP more effective for children and those families in need.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council and the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance co-chair. After a year of negotiations, specialty crop producers have come to a conclusion on their priorities for the 2023 farm bill. In this interview, Quarles outlines a number of their objectives and responds to issues of trade, crop protection and sustainability. Quarles says improvements in crop insurance and risk management tools can benefit the outlook for growers of specialty crops, which accounts for more than half the farm gate value of crops produced in the U.S.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. Despite many obstacles, the U.S. dairy industry enjoyed a record year for exports in 2022. Dykes hopes that pattern will continue as consumers around the globe search for affordable protein supplies. In this interview, Dykes appeals to the Biden administration to be more aggressive in negotiating trade opportunities for the dairy industry. He also shares his frustration with recent USDA recommendations to limit milk choices in various government nutrition programs. Finally, Dykes appeals for unity as the dairy industry looks to reform milk price discovery in the U.S.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Kurt Coffey, Vice President of Case IH North America. The farm machinery industry continues to enjoy robust demand from farmers nationwide despite ongoing challenges from inflation, labor and shipping infrastructure. Coffey says the farm machinery pool is aging, and customers are anxious to acquire new technologies to offset a reduced labor force and meet sustainability goals. Coffey says autonomy and artificial intelligence are rapidly advancing in the farm machinery industry, and electric tractors are being introduced into the machinery pool.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade. The group recently hosted a fly-in to give members the opportunity to encourage both Congress and the Biden administration to exert more energy on opening global market access through expanded trade agreements. Kuehl says trade should be a bipartisan issue, and legislative leaders must push the administration to act in the global trade arena. U.S. agriculture export value set a record last year, but this year's ag imports are expected to exceed export totals. Kuehl says it’s been a decade since the U.S. signed a free-trade agreement with Central America, and other countries have signed hundreds of deals expanding opportunities for their products.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Ted McKinney, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. The group has finalized its policy priorities for 2023 and is ready to assist lawmakers in developing a new farm bill. McKinney says NASDA members will let other farm groups take the lead on the specifics of commodity programs, but are very concerned that the U.S. is lagging in public agriculture research. NASDA is taking a greater interest in international trade and is pleased to see the Biden trade team engaged in global markets. McKinney says NASDA members oppose the EPA’s new Waters of the U.S. definition and want to see action on ag labor and workforce development issues.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Citing recent research on farm income, the secretary is intently concerned about the financial outlook for small- and medium-sized farms in the nation. Vilsack believes alternative income streams from carbon sequestration, meat packing and next-generation fuels can provide opportunities for these operations to keep pace with economic challenges and survive their operations. Ahead of the upcoming farm bill process, Vilsack hopes for flexibility from Congress in providing disaster assistance to farms and rural communities. Vilsack and USDA staff have been in close consultations with Mexican leaders and industry on a proposed ban on U.S. GMO corn imports beginning next year.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla. The former House Ag Committee chairman is back on the panel in time to help craft a new farm bill, and he says the budget and spending will be an issue in nearly every policy proposal crossing the House floor in the 118th Congress. Lucas believes a new farm bill can be delivered on time in the year ahead but admits there could be a number of issues — including nutrition programs — that could slow work on the bill. Lucas also discusses the implications of concessions made by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to gain enough votes to secure the Speaker's gavel.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Steve Becraft, general manager and CEO of Southern States Cooperative. The farmer-owned retailer is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Becraft acknowledges the many challenges farmers and their cooperative have survived and looks forward to new horizons of meeting the needs of the customers and communities they serve. After a recent marriage with Growmark, Becraft says the group is on solid financial footing. In this interview, Becraft discusses the challenges of urban sprawl, labor and transportation as well as the opportunity of helping farmers find sustainable solutions to improve productivity and efficiency in their operations.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jon Doggett, who retired as CEO of the National Growers Association at the end of 2022. In this interview, Doggett reflects on leaders and policy events in history where ag leaders met the challenges facing the industry. Doggett also discusses the role environmental issues may play in developing new farm programs, the odds of approving a new farm bill in 2023 and the implications of Mexico’s proposed ban on GMO corn.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Charles Baron, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Farmers Business Network. What began as a small group of farmers sharing seed performance information has become an international network of thousands of farmers and millions of acres. FBN has expanded its original model of data sharing to include product packaging, a national network of warehouses, farmer financing and access to carbon-sequestering farming practices. In this interview, Baron discusses the network’s growth and opportunities for expansion in North America and around the world.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo, who has been instrumental in writing and approving two farm bills as well as countless other pieces of legislation important to agriculture and rural America. Now wrapping up her tenure in Congress, the Missouri Republican looks back on accomplishments while serving on the House Agriculture and Armed Services Committees and looks ahead to challenges the 118th Congress will face in writing new farm policy. Hartzler believes there’s a better-than-average chance a new farm bill will be approved next year but sees nutrition programs and climate policy as contentious issues.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Dan Halstrom, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Despite logistical challenges from a strained national infrastructure, high prices and a strong U.S. dollar, sales of red meat to global customers are running at or near a record pace for 2022. While there’s no shortage of global meat production, Halstrom says expected growth in global consumer demand should absorb additional meat supplies. Mexico has become a valuable market for U.S. pork, and Halstrom says they’re keeping a close eye on the threat of a trade spat over GMO corn imports.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Doug Winter, chairman of the U.S. Soybean Export Council. Despite increased competition and global economic challenges, more than half the U.S. soybean production is destined for export customers. Last week Winter and the soybean industry celebrated a 40-year anniversary of opening the Chinese market. Now, U.S. growers are in search of other opportunities for their beans, oil and meal. In this interview, Winter discusses the growing importance of sustainable production to maintaining markets and how the quality of U.S. soy is helping to overcome less expensive South American supplies.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Andrew Bate, Founder of SwarmFarm Robotics. The Queensland farmer wasn’t satisfied with the results of more land and larger machines and made the decision to bring autonomy and robotics to the family’s Australian farm. The result was the birth of SwarmFarm Robotics. Bate believes the new technology can change the principles of modern farming adding to both productivity and sustainability. Bate says many common farm practices can easily be adapted to robotics while additional research will lend itself to even greater roles for machines tending fields around the world.
This week’s guest is Kornelis “Kees” Huizinga, a member of the Global Farmer Network and farmer in central Ukraine. Since moving to Ukraine two decades ago, Kees Huizinga have seen exponential increases in planted area and production per hectare making them a major player in global markets. But Russia’s invasion of the country has brought major hardship on Ukraine farmers in the loss of crops, livestock and infrastructure. Many Ukraine farmers have been lost not just in battles but while tending their fields and caring for livestock. Kees says farmers today identify with their grandfathers who fought for freedom during World War II. And he emphasizes the need to continue supporting Ukraine’s military.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Chris Novak, President and CEO of CropLife America. With the dust still settling from the mid-term elections, officials with the crop protection industry have set their sights on the lame duck session of Congress, hopeful that Environmental Protection Agency funding and the Pesticide Registration Improvement Renewal Act can see action by legislators. Novak discusses the regulatory bottlenecks at EPA, the impacts on bringing new, more sustainable crop protection chemicals to market, as well as new questions by environmentalists about the Endangered Species Act. Novak says the industry is facing economic headwinds from higher energy and operating costs but expects to have products in place to meet farmer needs for the 2023 crop year.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Rick Crawford. The Arkansas Republican was elected to a 7th term in last week’s election. Looking forward, Crawford doesn’t expect significant legislation to come from a limited lame duck session and suggests narrow margins in the next Senate and House will require compromise and a bipartisan effort to accomplish much. Crawford suggests a more conciliatory tone from the White House could bring legislative victories in the new year. He expects a new farm bill to be marked up next year and doesn’t expect significant policy changes, but says reference prices for many commodities will need to be adjusted. Finally, Crawford offers caution when dealing with the Chinese.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Errico Auricchio, chairman of the Consortium of Common Food Names. The European Union has been successful in negotiating trade agreements that prevent producers of certain foods from selling in those markets unless they’re produced by EU member countries. Auricchio brought his family’s tradition of producing fine cheeses to the United States in the late 1970’s. Now, Wisconsin-based BelGioioso cheese, vineyards and other food companies are seeing limited access to global markets because of the EU’s GI claims. Auricchio and other members of the CCFN are urging Washington to step up efforts to maintain global opportunities for American food companies.
This week’s Open Mic guest is House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern. The Massachusetts Democrat is an outspoken supporter of government food and nutrition programs. McGovern strongly approves of President Joe Biden’s attention to health and nutrition and ending hunger in the United States by 2030 and says he will not support a new farm bill that does not support the White House initiatives toward ending hunger. McGovern scoffs at critics who suggest Democrats are to blame for inflation and a troubled economy. He questions sanctions without review and says relations with China require a delicate balance.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Todd Van Hoose, President and CEO of the Farm Credit Council. While there are challenges with various commodities in different regions of the country, Van Hoose says generally 2022 should be profitable for most producers. However, the outlook for 2023 and beyond appears much more daunting with higher interest rates, increased input costs and uncertain outlook with both government regulations and legislation. In this interview, Van Hoose discusses potential changes to farm risk management tools, permanent disaster assistance and land values.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Terry Wolters, president of the National Pork Producers Council. Justices on the Supreme Court recently heard arguments on both sides of the California ballot initiative known as Proposition 12. Minnesota producer Terry Wolters says the measure would cause problems for producers and processors and increase food costs for consumers. In this interview, Wolters offers his observations of the discussion and expands on the possible implications of the ballot measure. Wolters offers insight on trade, border security, labor and USDA’s processing protocols.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation. The calendar year 2022 has yet again proven challenging and full of surprises for the nation’s farmers and ranchers. In this podcast, Duvall discusses current agriculture- related cases before the Supreme Court as well as ongoing regulatory decisions that are pending from the Environmental Protection Agency. Duvall is encouraged that disaster assistance funds may be considered by Congress in an Omnibus spending package after the November elections. The Georgia farmer applauds the Biden administration’s efforts to address hunger and nutrition and believes agriculture technology, research and development should be a part of the discussion. Farm bureau members are currently working on farm policy proposals that will be debated at their national convention, set for Puerto Rico in January.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Yin Woon Rani, CEO of MilkPEP. The National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board sees a certain opportunity for growth from a growing health-conscious consumer base. However, fluid milk consumption continues to decline largely due to the fast-paced lifestyle of many Americans today. Yin Woon Rani brings an extensive career in the food industry to her role in promoting milk and educating younger generations about the benefits of milk. MilkPEP collaborates with other dairy promotion groups and is reaching back to a true performer and the “Got Milk” campaign.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Dr. Nathan Pumplin, president and CEO of Norfolk Healthy Produce. Improvements in mechanization, nutrient management and crop protection have helped farmers make tremendous strides in productivity and sustainability, but Pumplin believes the industry is on the cusp of a tremendous revolution of more and better food for consumers through genetic engineering. The company is working with Washington now to gain full commercial status for a purple tomato with improved health benefits for consumers. Pumplin responds to questions on the safety of the science behind the new variety and the regulatory obstacles to growth in the industry.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Cathy Burns, CEO of the International Fresh Produce Association. The group — formed earlier this year by a merger of the United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association — is preparing for the upcoming White House meeting on hunger and nutrition as well as its own gathering in the nation's capital, where Burns says the group’s focus is the ongoing nutritional challenges in the nation and the world. IFPA is watching closely the development of the 2023 farm bill with a special interest in research as well as nutrition programs. Labor remains a top priority for IFPA members, and Burns is hopeful Congress can still address the issue this year.
This week’s Open Mic guest is G.W. Fuhr, Head of branded sales and biofuels for Syngenta. On the sidelines of the 2022 Farm Progress Show, Fuhr discussed the revolution of technology farmers utilize today to accomplish productivity and sustainability goals. Fuhr outlines the company’s expanded role in seed selection and revenue protection. He says Washington’s regulatory hurdles are a challenge for farmers who need crop protection chemistry and companies that want to bring new products to market.
This week’s Open Mic guest is House Ag Ranking Member Glenn “GT” Thompson. At last week's Farm Progress Show, Thompson offered thoughts on crafting a 2023 farm bill including an opportunity to chair the committee if the GOP wins a majority in the November midterms. The Pennsylvania 15th district representative is determined to see the committee do the work to write new farm policy with full committee hearings in Washington and across the country. Thompson favors investigating a shift to margin coverage for commodity programs and supports programs for small and beginning farmers as well as ag businesses. Thompson is critical of a “politically motivated” EPA and favors renewable liquid fuels over mandates for electric vehicles.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Donnell Rehagen, president and CEO of Clean Fuels Alliance America, formerly known as the National Biodiesel Board. A name change at the beginning of the year offered a better reflection of an industry group dedicated to renewable energy for the nation. Rehagen says corporate America’s shift in priorities to climate-friendly practices is leading to exponential growth opportunities for renewable diesel fuel for ground transportation, the airline industry and home heating. He says the Inflation Reduction Act secured renewable tax credits for the next two years and will help the industry ramp up to meet an expected two billion gallons of demand for renewable diesel. Rehagen believes the nation’s energy needs should be met by an “all of the above” list of products and sees growth opportunities despite a push toward hydrogen and electric vehicles.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Julie Anna Potts, President and CEO of the North American Meat Institute. The nation’s meat industry continues to weather disruptions from the Covid pandemic as well as the obstacles of a short labor supply and other supply chain issues. Potts acknowledges concerns about price disparity in the beef industry, but points to analysts who suggest the reaction was typical given market circumstances. Ahead, feed availability and price exacerbated by severe drought may create further challenges for producers and processors alike. NAMI anxiously awaits the Supreme Court’s attention to California’s Proposition 12 and is eager to help feed hungry families across the nation with food donations.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Michael Crowder, president of the National Association of Conservation Districts. For more than 75 years, farmers and ranchers have partnered with NACD to employ soil conservation practices to preserve natural resources and improve the productivity of their land. Today, conservation is seen as a means to mitigate the impact of climate change and help farmers sustainably produce food, fiber and fuel for the nation. Crowder says NACD is pleased to see additional funds directed toward existing conservation programs that are currently underfunded. He says additional funds for technical assistance will help producers engage more land in conservation stewardship practices. NACD has developed 2023 farm bill principles that they will continue to refine as work increases toward approving a new farm bill next year.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Nicole Berg, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers. The nation’s wheat farmers have two primary objectives for new farm programs including defending risk protection programs and a boost in baseline spending. The Washington wheat grower says the $5.50 reference price is below the cost of production for most wheat growers and must be addressed in the 2023 farm bill. Berg says wheat farmers share concerns about the availability of inputs for the new crop year and question the EPA’s increased scrutiny of important crop protection products critical to the outcome of environmental and production goals. Wheat growers question the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s endorsement of breaching dams on the Snake River.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Adam Putnam, CEO of Ducks Unlimited. The sportsman community has played an influential role in securing farm policy on Capitol Hill and continues to engage. As a former ag commissioner in his home state of Florida and 10 year member of Congress, Putnam understands and supports voluntary conservation programs that enhance the ability for farmers and ranchers to pursue environmental stewardship and productivity while employing science-based tools. Ducks Unlimited supports farming practices across North America and says their sustainability goals align well with both farmers and businesses looking to improve their environmental track record and address climate change.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Chris Edgington, president of the National Corn Growers Association. Several hundred corn grower leaders were in Washington recently to discuss policy and meet with members of Congress. Edgington says ethanol and the Next Generation Fuels Act are at the top of the agenda for him and other farmers. Farmers are also concerned about the availability of inputs for the next year’s crop as well as regulatory actions that would limit the use of crop protection products or restrict land use. Edgington says corn growers are participating in farm bill listening sessions and are keenly concerned with potential changes to Title 1 programs and crop insurance.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Steve Censky, CEO of the American Soybean Association. Over 200 soy farmers and industry leaders were in Washington for their summer board meeting and visits with leaders on Capitol Hill. The 2023 farm bill was at the top of issues that included land and water regulations, crop protection products, the rail industry and labor issues. Censky says soy leaders may have real concerns about any shift in farm programs to margin coverage instead of revenue or reference prices.
This week’s Open Mic guest is John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association. The nation’s corn milling industry is seeing tremendous demand for its products, but like others in the ag industry faces serious supply chain issues. Bode says some mills have been forced to temporarily shut down due to transportation issues. Corn refiners have a huge stake in global trade and as well the acceptance of technology farmers use to satisfy industry demand. Bode has high hopes for the bio-economy and looks forward to offering a new chapter to the corn refining industry’s sustainability story.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Andy LaVigne, President and CEO of the American Seed Trade Association. For almost a century and a half members of ASTA have worked to improve seed genetics for farmers around the world. LaVigne says opportunities to advance seed genetics are improving with the advent of genetic modification and gene editing. The limitation includes that of consumer acceptance and government approval. LaVigne says consumer desire for healthier and better food are a catalyst for growth, while the industry battles an outdated regulatory system to keep up with new plant traits. ASTA believes better seed can lead to improved sustainability practices and increased production to meet the needs of a growing planet.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn. The House Agriculture Committee Democrat played an integral role in seeing the Lower Food and Fuel Cost Act across the finish line, which she says would help address supply chain risks, lower the cost of food and gas prices, strengthen the food supply chain and ensure robust competition in the meat and poultry sector. In this interview, Craig discusses her ongoing concern for the economy and the financial obstacles of writing new farm and nutrition legislation. While she describes herself as a "all of the above" energy Democrat, Craig is a staunch supporter of renewable fuels and calls for additional spending on infrastructure to bring lower cost biofuels to motorists.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Constance Cullman, president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association. Aside from concern over available bulk commodity supplies for the season ahead, Cullman says the nation’s feed manufacturers share concerns about maintaining and growing global market access as well as trade agreements that provide needed mineral inputs for their customers. Cullman quips that the European Union’s regulatory structure provides greater access to feed ingredients that improve herd sustainability than the U.S. Cullman says the nation’s road and railway transportation system is creating tremendous hardship on getting feed to livestock producers in a timely manner. AFIA implores Washington to take every available precaution to protect the nation’s livestock from foreign animal disease suggesting an outbreak would not only affect meat exports, but feed as well.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Heather Hampton Knodle, President of the American Agri-Women. Hampton is an Illinois farm girl who married a farmer and continues a lifestyle of stewardship in the soil. The AAW were in Washington last week to meet with government agencies and leaders on Capitol Hill. Hampton Knodle says AAW wants freedom to pursue stewardship practices to provide food, fuel and fiber for the nation with greater certainty of farm programs and regulations from Washington.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jim Sutter, CEO of the U.S. Soybean Export Council. Sutter sees an end to the current short supply of soybean oil and other vegetable crops. He expects global soybean farmers to respond to higher prices with increased plantings to meet growing demand. Sutter expects soybean oil demand to increase and suggests USSEC is working to grow market opportunities for soybean meal globally. Sutter is pleased with the U.S. investment in infrastructure but is concerned that the Biden administration doesn’t have Trade Promotion Authority with this Congress needed to ratify any new trade agreement as written.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. As the nation celebrates June Dairy Month, there is no rest for the dairy industry facing ongoing recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic, trade challenges and supply chain issues. NMPF is calling on the Biden FDA to crack down on plant-based dairy substitute products and keep pressure on the Canadian government to fulfill its promises made under the USMCA trade deal. Mulhern says the 2018 farm bill made positive strides for dairy farmers nationwide but believes more should be done to protect the nation’s small and medium sized producers. Mulhern says dairy has a positive sustainability story that could be even greater with further incentives from Washington.