Open Mic Replay - An Extensive Catalog of Our Audio Interviews

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Secretary Tom Vilsack
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says American agriculture needs to build on the positive momentum of 2014. For the year ahead Vilsack says the relationship between the new GOP led congress and the Obama Administration on trade, transportation, budget and regulatory issues will set the pace for the industry. Vilsack says USDA continues to work toward implementation of new farm policy including a definition of those actively engaged in farming. Nutrition is on the agenda for the new year with a scope ranging from school lunches to new dietary guidelines for the nation from the USDA.

Andrew LaVigne
New innovations in seed breeding and biotechnology hold promise of helping members of the American Seed Trade Association to continue their goal of providing high quality seed to their customers. However, consumer acceptance and regulatory approval of new seed traits proves to be a continuing challenge for the seed industry. Andy LaVigne, President and CEO of the ASTA says they're introducing an educational campaign to help farmers, consumers and government agencies understand what seed companies are doing to bring new varieties to the market place. LaVigne ASTA's goal is to have a regulatory structure that is clear and transparent for the seed industry.

John Kavulich, Sr Policy Advisor
Following months of secret talks between the two countries, President Obama is using executive power to re-establishing diplomatic relations and easing economic and travel restrictions with Cuba. While he cannot unilaterally end the nation's economic embargo without congressional action, the president's move has been welcomed by many agriculture groups and some legislators. John Kavulich, Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council believes the key to additional commerce between the two nation's lies in credit and acceptance by both governments.

Charlie OBrien, Sr VP-Association of Equipment Manufacturers
The push for agriculture productivity and sustainability has brought rapid innovation for farm machines in the US and around the globe. While global food, fiber and fuel demand promise opportunity for machinery manufacturers, the agriculture equipment industry faces real challenges from a global economic downturn, higher emission standards, uncertain U.S. tax policy and a paradigm shift in net farm income from lower commodity prices. Charlie O'Brien, Senior Vice President for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers says technology in the coming generations of farm machinery will lead to a more rapid turnover of equipment sales as producers strive to maximize both efficiency and production.

Senator Saxby Chambliss
US Senator Saxby Chambliss is returning to his home in Georgia after two decades of service in Washington. A strong advocate for rural America and agriculture, Chambliss believes challenges will come in the 114th congress to risk management tools approved in the new farm law. Chambliss says urban representation on the agriculture committees and budget constraints will make approving new farm policy even more difficult in the years to come. As a member of the 'Gang of Six', Chambliss says there will be consequences if elected leaders don't address some very difficult fiscal decisions.

Chairman Frank Lucas
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas persevered with agriculture groups and congressional leaders to bring a new farm bill to law. In the 114th Congress, Lucas says he'll be diligent to protect funding for the risk management tools he sees essential for the nation's farmers and ranchers. Lucas favors Trade Promotion Authority for the administration and supports incoming committee chairman Congressman Mike Conaway's plans for hearings on nutrition and other aspects of farm policy.

Senator Tom Harkin
Iowa US Senator Tom Harkin has been a voice for farm and rural issues for four decades in Washington. Working with eight different farm bills, Harkin championed the nation's efforts on conservation, nutrition, energy and farm policy. The Iowa Democrat says future farm policy will require a broader coalition of voters that represent rural issues as well as agriculture and more tools to protect natural resources.

Senator Mike Johanns
Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns believes the lame duck agenda will be brief and the 114th congress challenged with a blizzard of regulatory authority exerted from the Obama administration. While the GOP majority in both the House and Senate cannot be ignored, both chambers may struggle to muster enough votes to override a presidential veto on key issues. Johanns expects a tremendous amount of energy around the appropriations and budget process in the new congress. Many wonder what might be the next political step for this Nebraska Republican.

Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc.
While the dairy industry has seen improved financial stability this year, Tom Gallagher CEO of Dairy Management Incorporated says the combination of larger global supplies and unstable economies makes the 2015 dairy outlook more challenging. Domestically, Gallagher says DMI has signed seven different partnerships to boost fluid milk consumption to a health and wellness minded consumer base. The effort will see an investment of over half a billion dollars in new packaging and new products to grow market share at home and with consumers around the world.

Tom Dempsey, CEO of the Snack Food Association
Along with other food and beverage manufacturers, the Snack Food Association opposes individual state mandated food labels. Tom Dempsey, CEO of the SFA says their members aren't concerned about the safety of foods with ingredients from genetically enhanced crops but they do support a single federal law regarding food labeling and GMOs. Dempsey says the menu of snack foods continues to expand and is finding a larger share of consumer's diets with portable foods consumed between meals.

Dr. Jill Long Thompson Board Chair and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration
Amid unease in the strength of the domestic and global economy the Farm Credit Administration has seen growth in the quantity and quality of loans. Dr. Jill Long Thompson Board Chair and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration believes the 2014 farm bill provides the risk management tools tools producers need to weather the cyclical shift in commodity prices and pending higher interest rates. Remembering the farm crisis in the 1980's and the meltdown in the financial sector in 2008, Thompson says the Farm Credit Administration and the Farm Credit system are working to ensure a safe and sound lending system for generations to come.

Jim Blome, Pres & CEO Bayer CropScience
Challenged to enhance sustainability and increase productivity, the crop industry continues to search for new scientific benchmarks to meet the growing demand for food, fiber and fuel. Jim Blome, President and CEO of Bayer CropScience says the company is heavily invested in discovering new benchmarks in genetics, conventional plant breeding, biologics, and crop protection. Blome says the crop science industry needs consistent and predictable domestic and global regulatory system to give farmers access to new innovations in the industry.

Chuck Conner, President, CEO of NCFC
Members of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives have real concerns with the EPA regulatory proposals for waters of the US and are hopeful congress will step up with meaningful immigration reform. Chuck Conner says while farmers are busy in their fields with the 2014 harvest, cooperative members are on task with handling, drying and storing an expected record corn and soybean crop this year.

Rod Snyder, President Field to Market
Field to Market is a diverse multi-stakeholder alliance including nearly every aspect of the food supply chain to define sustainability in today's agriculture and provide food for future generations. This group of farmers, food manufacturers, agribusinesses and conservationists is guided by science and outcomes to help farmers become better stewards. Fresh from a White House meeting on this topic, President Rod Snyder explains how the sum of their effort is a better understanding of the balance of nature and the growing need for more and better food.

Bob Stallman
American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman hopes the lame duck session of the congress can agree to preserve cash accounting for farmers and ranchers as well as restoring the Section 179 advanced depreciation option. Stallman hopes the Obama administration stays within their authority on any potential action on immigration reform and still calls on the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw their proposed rule on Waters of the United States. Stallman encourages trade negotiators to hang tough against those countries who are reluctant to open their borders to US agricultural products.



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