Open Mic Replay - An Extensive Catalog of Our Audio Interviews

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Bill Reinsch
Bill Reinsch currently serves as President of the National Foreign Trade Council. He oversees NFTC's efforts favoring open markets and opposing unilateral sanctions. Mr. Reinsch also serves as a member of the U.S.-China Security Review Commission. He provides a concise overview of pending trade deals and disputes with optimism and criticism. Reinsch indicates that negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Altantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are the most ambitious of the new century and could move free trade to a new plateau. Reinsch says China, even though it is not part of any multilateral agreement, is still a major player in all negotiations on international trade.

James Moll
James Moll produced "Farmland", a documentary about six farmers and ranchers from across the United States. The funding for the film came from the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance but Moll says he had complete editorial control. The film had its debut on Thursday, April 14 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. Five of the farmers featured in the film attended the gala event. Moll is a very high profile film maker for this type of project. He has academy award credits to his name but says he had never been on a farm until he produced "Farmland". His point of view remains understated as he says he wanted the farmers to speak for themselves and tell about their industry and affection for their livelihood and lifestyle.

John Garamendi
"This is the worst drought in forty years and maybe ever," says Congressman John Garamendi, who represents agricultural areas of the highly productive state of California. He projects reductions in water usage from twenty to one hundred percent this year. As a result, he wants to build new water storage lakes in a state that has said no to such construction for fifty years. Along with support from other California Congressmen, he introduced HR 4300: "The Sacramento Valley Water Storage and Restoration Act of 2014." Garamendi comes from a strong agricultural and public policy background. He grew up on a California ranch and still has livestock interests. He holds a degree in business from Berkley and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. Garamendi served as Lt. Governor and chaired the Economic Development Commission. He served in the state legislature, rising to Senate Majority Leader and later became California State Insurance Commissioner. In 1995, President Clinton appointed him to be Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior. He was elected to Congress in 2009.

Jennifer Sirangelo
If you have ever participated in 4-H, you will undoubtedly want to hear from Jennifer Sirangelo, the new CEO of the National 4-H Council. The youth organization has membership of seven million young people worldwide with programs in science, agriculture, health and citizenship. She comes from a Midwest background, graduating from William Jewel College in Kansas City before receiving a MBA from Syracuse University and attending Oxford University. She was a Harry S. Truman scholar as an undergraduate. After joining the National 4-H Council in 2006, Sirangelo served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer as she led development of the council's strategic plan and tripled annual fundraising.

Bob Dinneen
With prices trending downward, many commodity growers are paying close attention to the Renewable Fuels Standard and whether the EPA will eventually stick with their proposal to lower the amounts of renewables required to be blended. At the same time, livestock producers and the oil industry are stepping up their attacks to have the RFS removed altogether. In this week's Open Mic, broadcaster Cindy Zimmerman asks Bob Dinneen, the president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, to offer his prognosis on what the EPA will do on the RFS and whether there are other avenues to expand biofuel consumption. Dinneen credits USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack with being a strong biofuels supporter, even though he can't say the same about some other members of the White House team.

Alan Tracy
From biotech to international trade and a wide variety of other issues, U.S. wheat growers have a lot on their plates and Alan Tracy, President of the U. S. Wheat Associates plays a key role. Tracy first entered the national scene in 1981 at the beginning of the Reagan Administration. He worked under Agriculture Secretary John Block in a number of high level positions including Deputy Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Inspection Services, and Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs and Commodity Programs. He later worked in the White House as Special Assistant to the President for Agricultural Trade and Food Assistance and served for seven years as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. Tracy directs the organization's global export market development program, attempting to increase wheat consumption and U.S. market and talks about some of the challenges as well as opportunities for opening up more global trade.

Scott Fritz
Indiana farmer Scott Fritz has served in many capacities within the U.S. soybean Industry but says his current role is the most satisfying because the Soy Foundation is feeding hungry children in many developing nations and showing the way to greater food independence. As U.S. farmers celebrate Ag Day this week, Fritz is one of several farmers focused on helping feed the hungry both in the U.S. and around the globe. "Helping children is close to my heart; it's a heartwarming feeling," Fritz says. "We as farmers take pride in our product, but being able to turn around and help other people. That's what it's all about." He shares how sow cows help feed school children and teach others to develop their own businesses.

Michael Toscano
"They aren't Drones" is the first statement from Michael Toscano, President and CEO of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), when asked about one of the newest and perhaps most controversial new tools for farmers and ranchers. He says the mission of these vehicles, aerial or terrestrial, is peaceful and offers a great advancement in scouting, service, and efficiency. Toscano explores the issues farmers will face in operating the first generation of small aircraft that are designed to gather data and transmit it back to a ground base in an era where "Big Data" has become a huge concern. In this forward-looking discussions, he also looks at "blue sky" ideas that may result in an entirely new platform for business activity."They aren't Drones" is the first statement from Michael Toscano, President and CEO of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), when asked about one of the newest and perhaps most controversial new tools for farmers and ranchers. He says the mission of these vehicles, aerial or terrestrial, is peaceful and offers a great advancement in scouting, service, and efficiency. Toscano explores the issues farmers will face in operating the first generation of small aircraft that are designed to gather data and transmit it back to a ground base in an era where "Big Data" has become a huge concern. In this forward-looking discussions, he also looks at "blue sky" ideas that may result in an entirely new platform for business activity.

John Miller
The trains are running slow in this very cold winter but the BNSF Railway plans for speeding up service and building up in the years ahead, says John Miller, Group Vice President for Agricultural Operations. He explains a number of factors slowing down shipments this winter, discusses 'grain in the box' and previews the very large capital expenditures they are making to improve and expand their hauling capabilities. Miller's past experience includes serving as president of Bartlett Grain in Kansas City.

Gregg Doud
Gregg Doud is president of the Commodity Markets Council (formerly known as the Grain Trade Council). His organization is focused on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and rules that it is considering, as well as the re-authorization process and appointing three new commissioners. Doud comes from a strong agricultural background. He served as Chief Economist for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and worked on the Senate Agriculture Committee staff for Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) specializing in issues relating to the CFTC. Doud questions the lack of agricultural understanding at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the range of initiatives that could redefine hedging and contracting in the United States and Europe.

Chairman Frank Lucas
"It was almost a miracle," said Congressman Frank Lucas, chair of the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee and chair of the House/Senate Conference Committee, regarding passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. In this week's Open MIc, Lucas details several provisions of the bill plus implementation and potential government exposure if commodity prices fall. He also responds to news media mockery of the bill over obscure provisions and discusses his political future in Oklahoma after compromising on several key provisions to gain passage of the bill.

Senator Pat Roberts
As the U.S. Senate prepares to approve a new farm bill this week, supporters and critics are still weighing in on key provisions in the 949-page package. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, understands the difficult dynamics involved with gaining approval of complex food and farm legislation, having served as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in 1996 when "Freedom to Farm" was adopted and as ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee when deliberations first started on the present bill in 2011. Even though he is pleased with changes made to enhance crop insurance, Roberts explains why he continues to have long-standing concerns about the commodity title and is likely to vote against the Agricultural Act of 2014 this week.

Harry Stine
As world leaders look for new ways to feed over nine billion people by 2050, they will need to draw on the expertise of Harry Stine, a legendary plant breeder and developer of high yielding soybeans and hybrid corn. Stine Seed was started by his father but the Iowa company focused primarily on seed cleaning until 1965 when Harry found some unusual soybean plants in a field and became interested in soybean breeding. He went on to found Stine Seed Farms by recognizing additional profit opportunities by breeding and developing higher yield lines. In 1973, he and business partners added hybrid corn to their breeding and commercialization. Stine speaks out about the current condition of agriculture and the prospects for increasing yields to meet future demand. He states his views on how technical advances in agriculture intertwine with the philosophical needs of society.

Jim Mulhern
Got dairy? Farm bill watchers are expressing optimism that a new 'deal' can be reached on dairy, but as always, the devil is in the details. Fresh off Capitol Hill Friday night - after another day of discussions about the dairy title - Agri-Pulse interviewed Jim Mulhern, the new President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. Although no formal agreement has been reached, Mulhern - who first started working on the hill in 1983 and has held numerous positions in the dairy industry - emphasizes that the conflict over dairy programs will not prevent the 2014 Farm, Food and Jobs Act from being brought to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. He expresses his desire to "call the bluff" of the Speaker of the House but realizes that political pressure on the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee won't allow that option. Mulhern also addresses "post farm bill" goals for immigration reform and fair and equitable labeling of U.S. dairy products in trade agreements with the European Union.

Tom Vilsack
Should USDA start implementing the farm bill's permanent law? U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, is holding off for now, but in this week's Open Mic, he explains what could happen if Congress can't get the job done and pass a new farm bill in the near future. He also discusses the potential "unintended consequences" of including Rep. Steve King's amendment with the farm bill and whether or not you'll hear about the farm bill in President Obama's State of the Union address. In this wide-ranging interview, the former Iowa Governor also talks about SNAP funding, the beef checkoff, immigration reform, and finding a "21st Century" solution to GMO labeling.



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