Balanced Reporting. Trusted Insights. Friday, October 15, 2021

Agri-Pulse Open Mic Interview

In depth interviews with leaders in ag policy
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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler

This week’s Open Mic guest is EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. In a conversation just days before the election, Administrator Wheeler discussed the agency’s recent decision to extend the registration of certain dicamba products and amendments to the exclusion zones for ground and aerial pesticide application. Administrator Wheeler discusses the judicial challenges that threaten EPA jurisdiction of various chemistries as well as the request for information surrounding the agency’s decisions to grant RFS exemptions to some of the nation’s small refineries. Wheeler says EPA should regulate, but not dictate, options for the nation’s energy needs.

National Pork Board CEO Bill Even


This week’s Open Mic guest is Bill Even, CEO of the National Pork Board. The nation’s swine producers are cautiously optimistic given consistent domestic demand for pork and increases in volume and value of U.S. pork export sales. On the home front, Even suggests the industry is focused on protecting the herd from African swine fever and is working at every level along with USDA and other government agencies to safeguard animals and the supply chain. Even says the pork checkoff continues to share the sustainability story of the nation’s hog farmers and is working to identify avenues to see pork production is carbon neutral in the very near future. In the meat case, Even says there’s tremendous consumer acceptance for ground pork and the industry is ramping up to satisfy the consumer appetite for the versatile protein source.


Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio


This week’s Open Mic guest is Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. As a key member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, the Ohio Democrat realizes the need for infrastructure spending for his state and rural communities across the nation. Brown supports the Biden administration’s Build Back Better proposal and believes the massive effort will be funded in ways that prevent a significant strain on the U.S. budget. He dismisses concerns about potential estate tax burdens on family farms. Brown supports renewable energy but holds to an “all of the above” approach to the nation’s energy needs.


Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.


This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Dusty Johnson. The South Dakota Republican says the verdict is still out on how much this season’s dry weather will impact farmers and ranchers in his state. He also says the nation should not be naïve to the lasting impact that huge federal spending will have on programs Washington will be able to afford in years to come. Johnson prefers a bipartisan solution to federal infrastructure investments and opposes the “one-party” approach to spending issues. He’s offered legislation to reel in losses in exports from container shipping practices and appreciates President Joe Biden’s support for local meat processing.


Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.


This week’s Open Mic guest is Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member John Boozman. The Arkansas Republican isn’t pleased with the process of budget reconciliation for the Build Back Better Plan now before Congress. Boozman questions not only the sum of funds but the lack of detail in how the agriculture dollars will be used. While stepped-up basis may be preserved with the plan in its current form, Boozman says that can quickly change and says lowering the minimum inheritance tax thresholds could have the same detrimental effect on the transfer of farms and small businesses to the next generation. Labor is still a top issue for agriculture, but he’s doubtful this Congress will embrace the challenge.


Meagan Kaiser, United Soybean Board


This week’s Open Mic Guest is Megan Kaiser, treasurer and five-year member of the United Soybean Board. As a farmer and soil scientist, Kaiser says growers are reaping the benefits of previous checkoff investments in new uses and sustainability, leading to better soil health, increased productivity and a healthier environment. Farmer-funded research has also paved the way for cleaner air in major U.S. cities using biodiesel, biodegradable food and beverage packaging and more potential for food as medicine. She also discusses the need for better connectivity in rural areas so that more comprehensive data can be collected and analyzed.