This week’s guest on Open Mic is NRCS Chief Matt Lohr. The 5th-generation Virginia farmer understands the responsibility of preserving natural resources while at the same time meeting the nation’s challenge for food, fiber and fuel. In this interview, Lohr discusses existing programs and new program innovations being implemented across thousands of conservation districts across the nation. Lohr says NRCS offices may be closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but employees are on task, assisting cooperators and implementing new conservation programs as described in the 2018 farm bill.
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.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Julie Anna Potts, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute. Few segments of the food industry were forced to adapt as quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic to meet consumer demand as members of the North American Meat Institute. Now, Potts says, the meat industry is looking forward to a new normal and embracing new challenges including a court challenge to California’s Proposition 12 ballot initiative that threatens to wreak havoc on interstate commerce of meat. Potts says resolving labor issues remains a top priority for the meat industry as well as securing the safety of their existing workers from COVID-19.