This week’s guest on Open Mic is the President and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. While dairy policy improvements in the 2018 farm bill have helped the financial plight of many milk producers, Vilsack says it’s the global trade front that presents the best opportunity for improvement to the bottom line. Vilsack hopes for a positive conclusion to a trade deal with Japan and says the Chinese market holds tremendous opportunity for U.S. dairy. Vilsack highlights global paradigms that could lead to greater demand for U.S. dairy products from both health conscious consumers and for feed for growing livestock herds.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Todd Van Hoose, President and CEO of the Farm Credit Council. An upswing in commodity prices is leading to a better economic outlook for many farms across the nation. Van Hoose suggests higher crop prices have helped the balance sheet of a number of operations but is also challenging livestock and dairy producers. As a member of Rebuild Rural, FCC is supportive of investment in rural infrastructure but has reservations about changes in tax laws to pay for projects. Van Hoose is encouraged by the Biden trade agenda and believes Washington has a role to play in facilitating climate smart revenue opportunities for farms and ranches.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Debbie Reed, executive director of the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium. ESMC was established in 2017 from the Noble Foundation’s desire to discover market-based solutions to improve soil health. With tremendous energy from the private sector toward reducing greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, Reed says agriculture and forestry can play an important role in accomplishing positive environmental outcomes. Reed ways Washington is playing “catch up” to the industry’s efforts toward sustainability, but can still play a critical role to desired outcomes.
This week’s Open Mic guest is U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin. The Illinois Democrat has long been concerned about a changing climate and the challenges it poses for the nation and its farmers. Durbin supports the American Jobs Act and recognizes the agriculture industry’s concerns over tax amendments to pay for the investment. He continues to work for immigration reform with a strong agriculture worker component and hopes for new efforts to expand market opportunities for farmers and ranchers.
This week’s Open Mic Guest is Sen. Mike Braun. In barely more than two years of serving Hoosiers on Capitol Hill, the Indiana Republican has partnered with Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. to bring the Growing Climate Solutions Act through the committee. Braun is optimistic as the bill is postured for floor debate in that over 40 members from both parties are backing the legislation. In this interview, Braun speaks to the global climate summit last week hosted by President Joe Biden as well as details of what’s in the GCSA’s language. Braun, a fiscal conservative, speaks to the broader language of Biden’s pending infrastructure bill and favoritism for electric vehicles in the plan.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Dr. Sally Rockey, executive director for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. Born from the 2014 Farm Bill, FFAR is tasked with finding matching funds for research in the food production system from the nation’s farms to consumer’s plates. While research is targeted in six different challenge areas, Rockey says climate and nutrition are themes that cross much of the foundation’s overall focus. Rockey says agriculture is the only industry that can actually limit the extent of climate change. FFAR intends to provide research farmers can use to make science-based decisions to increase productivity and help the environment. FFAR and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action recently announced that PepsiCo has joined the AgMission initiative to reduce greenhouse gasses in agriculture as a founding partner.