Open Mic Replay - An Extensive Catalog of Our Audio Interviews

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Sen. Mitch McConnell has been the Minority Leader of the Senate since January 3, 2007 and is the longest serving U.S. Senator in Kentucky history, but he's facing tough re-election battles heading into 2014. On this week's Open Mic, he talks about the challenges associated with passing a new farm bill and why going back to the 1949 permanent law would be "insane." In this wide-ranging interview, he also addresses a host of other ag-related issues such as immigration reform, estate taxes, the sequester, Obamacare and the "war on coal."

Brett Stuart is President of Global AgriTrends. He was formerly with the U.S. Meat Export Federation before becoming an independent consultant in the meat trade. Stuart's view is that China and Russia do not want "cheap" imports of meat and grain because it reduces their ability to be self sufficient in food production. He examines the politics and the economics of China and Russia and the role the United States plays as a producer and exporter of high quality, low cost meat and meat products.

Bill Wykes is a soybean farmer and the past chair of the Illinois Soybean Association. He is a strong advocate of biotechnology and utilization of science and innovation in agriculture. Wykes is concerned about regulatory and trade issues facing biotechnology and has encouraged the ISA to host a symposium on the dynamics of international biotechnology.

Lynn Jenkins is the second district U.S. Representative from Kansas. She grew up on a dairy farm near Holton. She is in her third term and has risen to vice-chair of the Republican house conference. Jenkins speaks out about federal agencies and their heavy handed approach in regulating business and industry. She has co-sponsored legislation to allow citizens to have a stronger defense against a government agency by recording phone calls and holding government personnel accountable. Jenkins is also working to determine what federal nutrition policy will be most effective in addressing citizen needs in the future.

Congressman Dave Loebsack, who recently hosted Rep. Collin Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, in his southeastern Iowa district, explains why he and other Democrats could not support the split farm bill that passed the House a few weeks ago with only GOP votes. Loebsack is quite concerned about failure to get a farm bill through Congress this year and cites his concerns for agriculture if the current one-year farm bill extension expires.

Dr Richard Raymond is a former Undersecretary for Food Safety with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He addresses the social and political ramifications of use of antibiotics and growth promotants in livestock. Dr Raymond sees a direct correlation between the rise of social media and the rise in consumer fears of antibiotic use in livestock, lean finely textured meat and ractopamine. He offers constructive criticism of the industry and advice on how growers can be proactive rather than reactive.

Fresh from voting on a split farm bill that creates a new permanent farm law, Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, tells why GOP leaders decided to pursue this path. Neugebauer represents the 19th Congressional District of Texas that covers several counties of the Texas Panhandle and the cities of Abilene and Lubbock and serves as a senior member on the Agriculture Committee. He describes last week's farm bill vote as a "first down, not a touchdown" as the measure hopefully heads to conference on at least the commodity title.

Roger Johnson is president of the National Farmers Union. and a past Commissioner of Agriculture in North Dakota. NFU, as an organization, has shown an affinity toward small farmers and democratic party views, however In this year's farm and immigration debates, they are in step with a broad coalition of farm and labor organizations who want passage of bills that can be put into law. Johnson is frustrated with the U.S. House of Representatives and their inability to compromise on issues like the farm bill and discusses why passage is stalled in the House.

Shirley Bloomfield, the CEO of NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association says rural customers want the same speed, clarity and quality of service as other Americans, but her members face several challenges delivering 21st Century technology, in part because wireless still needs a wired network. Her association is working with farm groups and others on a new Smart Rural Community Initiative to help boost education, telemedicine and economic development in rural areas. She also explains how failure to pass a farm bill impacts rural America and telecommunications firms who rely on USDA rural development programs.

Dr. Rob Fraley was just named a winner of the 2013 World Food Prize for his role in revolutionary biotechnology discoveries. His career has several parallels with Dr. Norman Borlaug and his passion is as intense. Fraley talks about the use of plant biotechnology to feed a growing population, addressing global hunger and the challenges of gaining acceptance of technologies that change the status quo. He also comments on biotech wheat containing the Roundup Ready trait that was recently identified on an Oregon farm.

Both urban and rural interests need to stick together in order for a farm bill to pass in the U.S. House of Representatives says Rep. Emanuel Cleaver in this week's Open Mic. Cleaver, whose congressional district covers both rural and urban parts of Northwest Missouri, is a former Kansas City mayor and the grandson of farmers. He is also past chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. He hopes to vote for the House farm legislation but explains why he would like to see the final bill look more like the Senate version.

Congressman Rick Nolan is a democrat from Minnesota's 8th district. His primary industries are agriculture, forestry and mining. He holds the congressional record for the longest lapse between terms as he served in Congress (1975-1981), then left to go into business where he managed an international trade association and was owner and president of a forestry company. He returned to Congress this year, in his mid 60's, and now sits on the agriculture and transportation committees. Nolan speaks about then and now in the change in Congress and about the prospect for passage of the House Farm Legislation. He also talks about the EPA and the challenges faced by industries in his district.

Dr. Steve Meyer is president of Paragon Economics. He consults with the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council. As an economist, he examines the Smithfield Foods sale to a Chinese company and speculates on whether it will be given regulatory approval. He looks at the impact of such a move on grain and pork producers in the United States. Meyer also discusses the impact of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) on production facilities.

Frank Lucas (Republican-Oklahoma) Chairs the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee and succeeded in getting a diverse farm bill through his committee in 2012 and 2013 with over a 3/4 majority. However, the toughest battle lies ahead, with floor debate expected in mid-June. Lucas talks about the major challenges of a bill that has budget restraints and forces on both sides pulling for their respective constituents. He is also watching the Senate debate "every minute I can spare" to see what that bill can offer when House members go to conference and sign a new bill into law before the current one expires on September 30.

Congressman Steve King is an outspoken conservative member of the House Agriculture Committee. In this week's Open Mic, the Iowa Republican shares his observations about the farm bill that the committee wrote last week. King put through an egg amendment that may keep states from imposing standards that restrict commerce with other states. He also wants to cut the cost of SNAP and reduce other expenditures as well. King, who is in line to be chairman when the next farm bill comes up in 2018, also discusses how committee membership has changed.



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