Shining Light on Farm & Food Policy for 20 Years. Sunday, April 14, 2024

Agri-Pulse Open Mic Interview

In depth interviews with leaders in ag policy
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Land O'Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford

This week’s Open Mic Guest is Beth Ford, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes. The nearly century-old company has recently formed a multi-year partnership with Microsoft and has helped to form a new coalition to lobby Washington for increased access to broadband in rural communities. Recognizing a lack of healthcare in rural communities and a lack of investment in technology for schools, Ford says the digital divide isn’t a rural issue, it is an American issue. Ford says Land O’ Lakes is working to provide data-rich insights to help farmers achieve improvements in profitability and sustainability.
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Michael AuBuchon, Managing Director of Fuel Strategies and Management, Southwest Airlines Company

Duration: 24:48

This week’s Open Mic guest is Michael AuBuchon, Managing Director of Fuel Strategies and Management for Southwest Airlines Company. Farmers and the renewable fuel industry are eagerly anticipating the exponential growth potential of satisfying demand from the airline industry for sustainable aviation fuel. AuBuchon reports a significant investment from Southwest Airlines Company for the development and production of SAF from renewable ethanol. Southwest has targeted goals toward ramping up production of cleaner burning fuel to help meet their climate goals by 2030 and beyond. AuBuchon says decisions over the amended GREET model and pending tax advantages from the Inflation Reduction Act as well as other state government incentives will play a vital role in meeting their demand for millions of gallons of cleaner burning fuel for their planes.


Dr. Georgia Machell, Interim President and CEO of the National WIC Association

Duration: 21:10

This week’s Open Mic guest is Dr. Georgia Machell, Interim President and CEO of the National WIC Association. The WIC program is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.  The program finds itself a beneficiary of additional financial resources but also in need of legislation to extend coverage to a growing population in need. Machell says barely half of those who qualify for services actually are receiving benefits. The Modern WIC Act would provide additional funds, but political gridlock in Washington over nutrition spending doesn’t provide much hope for a quick resolution. Machell says WIC administrators are working to address program diversity issues. 


Sen. Joni Ernst, R - Iowa

Duration: 21:11

This week’s Open Mic guest is U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. Agriculture was once a strong contributor to a positive trade balance, but is forecast to be in deficit this year. Ernst faults the Biden administration’s lack of effort in securing global trade deals for U.S. farmers. The Iowa Republican sees little chance for a farm bill this calendar year but hopes for better chances in 2025. Ernst also discusses results of a GAO report indicating the majority of USDA employees have not returned to work in their Washington, D.C. offices.


Julie Anna Potts, Meat Institute

Duration: 26:38

This week’s Open Mic guest is Julie Anna Potts, CEO of the Meat Institute. A new logo and brand identity of the group formerly known as the North American Meat Institute is being celebrated this week at the Annual Meat Conference in Nashville. The group’s purpose is summarized to highlight both nourishment and sustainability. In this interview, Potts discusses the group’s mission, efforts toward sustainability, the Biden administration’s amendments to the Packers and Stockyards Act, the new voluntary Product of the USA meat labels, Proposition 12 and the ill effects of the smallest cattle inventory since the 1950’s.


Ambassador Doug McKalip, USTR

Duration: 26:09

This week’s Open Mic guest is Doug McKalip, chief agriculture negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The nation’s producers reaped the benefits of shorter supplies of global agriculture products over the past few years, but a stronger dollar and an increase in supply have brought headwinds to international trade. USDA's most recent ag forecast suggests a trade deficit for U.S. agriculture, and there hasn’t been an announcement of a new trade deal in some time, and the Biden administration has concentrated on reducing tariffs as a means of improving ag trade. McKalip says the U.S. won’t give in to Mexico’s challenge of genetically modified crops and is contemplating its next move in trade relations with Canada over dairy policy.