This week’s Open Mic Guest is Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark. Few events in history have been as challenging as the COVID-19 pandemic. Agriculture makes up one-fourth of Arkansas’ GDP and has hit the state’s rural economy especially hard. As a member of both the Agriculture and Appropriations Committees in the Senate, Boozman approves of additional funds to support the industry but is keeping an eye on the additional financial burden. He supports the Agriculture Department and Secretary Sonny Perdue’s guidelines for dispersing CFAP funds, is in favor of increased annual limits for the Commodity Credit Corporation, and believes the silver lining of the pandemic may be heightened efforts to improve rural broadband service.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jim Collins, CEO of Corteva Agriscience, who describes his company as a “startup with a rich history.” In this interview, Collins discusses the challenges of meeting global demand for food, fiber and fuel and the opportunities of a new production paradigm rewarding farmers for sustainability goals as well as the crops they produce. Collins says Corteva is rapidly developing new crop protection products to replace older chemistries that meet both producer needs and consumer demands for greener and safer products.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Dan Halstrom, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation. While the global food distribution system may have been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, Halstrom says consumer demand for U.S. beef, pork and lamb continues to grow. USDA data suggests strong demand for red meat thanks to recent trade agreements giving U.S. producers a more level playing field to compete in global market. Halstrom expects recovery from the pandemic in certain countries as well as online trends in consumer shopping to lead to greater U.S. market share in global markets.
This week’s Open Mic guest is John Piotti, president and CEO of the American Farmland Trust. In this week’s conversation, Piotti expands on the group’s mission to preserve valuable farmland and to expand opportunities for farmers to use their land as a carbon sink to battle climate change as well as produce food for a growing planet. Piotti sees support from private industry as well as government policy to reward farmers for agronomic practices that sequester carbon in the soil and improves soil health. Piotti says changes in land ownership is an obstacle to developing new support programs for farmers and discusses the reasons behind farmland losses.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol. The renewable fuels industry struggled from a number of significant challenges leading up to this year, highlighted by reduced volume demand by the EPA’s Small Refinery Exemptions. Jennings says 2020 has brought even more financial hardship including reduced fuel demand from COVID, a crude oil price war and lost export market opportunities. While many farmers and industries have seen financial support from Washington, the nation’s ethanol producers have been left out. Jennings shares thoughts on consequences to the industry if Congress remains deaf to their needs. He also discusses renewable fuel as a major issue in the November 3rd election.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jen Sorenson, president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic proved to be the latest challenge to the nation’s swine industry. Following a period of lost global markets due to trade conflicts, Sorenson says producers' profit hopes were crushed under the weight of lost domestic markets and reduced processing capacity because of COVID. While direct payments and other government assistance programs have helped, the Iowa hog farmer says many producers have been forced out of business and many more may be lost without additional government support. Sorenson hopes legislators will amend the CCC charter allowing compensation for euthanized and donated animals and bring reform to immigration laws. NPPC also supports aggressive trade negotiations to create additional global markets for U.S. pork.