Balanced Reporting. Trusted Insights. Saturday, March 25, 2023

Agri-Pulse Open Mic Interview

In depth interviews with leaders in ag policy
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USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey

This week’s Open Mic Guest is USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey. Nearing the end of his tenure as the first FPAC leader, Northey suggests the majority of work on implementing the 2018 farm bill is done as well the heavy lifting for the first two rounds of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program funding for a diverse group of farmers and ranchers across the nation. Ahead, Northey believes Congress should consider some mechanism for ad hoc assistance to be administered through USDA's Commodity Credit Corps. without additional legislative action. Northey believes CCC limits should be addressed in a new farm bill and believes a shift to climate-smart farm programs will include a number of conservation practices farmers are already implementing voluntarily. He says adequate broadband service is still an issue the Biden administration will need to address.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

Duration: 24:35

This week’s Open Mic guest is Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb. In this interview, Fischer explains the need for legislation to approve year-round sales of E-15 for the nation. She looks forward to crafting a new farm bill but admits nutrition will again be challenging for both sides of the aisle. She stands firmly against Mexico’s ban on genetically modified corn and says trading partners must be held accountable to their commitments. Fischer supports the nation’s checkoff programs and opposes legislation to add restrictions to their operations.


Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D- Virginia

Duration: 25:43

This week’s Open Mic guest is Virginia Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger. The 7th District Representative is a strong supporter of conservation, risk management and nutrition programs, but like others in the legislature, recognizes the budget constraints in writing new farm language this year. Spanberger says the implications of Russia’s attack on Ukraine and closer ties between Vladimir Putin and China are concerning. She sees the need for both border security and immigration reform. She shares concerns about an adequate work force. Spanberger believes minor changes could make the School Lunch Program and SNAP more effective for children and those families in need.


Kam Quarles, National Potato Council

Duration: 22:51

This week’s Open Mic guest is Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council and the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance co-chair. After a year of negotiations, specialty crop producers have come to a conclusion on their priorities for the 2023 farm bill. In this interview, Quarles outlines a number of their objectives and responds to issues of trade, crop protection and sustainability. Quarles says improvements in crop insurance and risk management tools can benefit the outlook for growers of specialty crops, which accounts for more than half the farm gate value of crops produced in the U.S.


Michael Dykes, IDFA

Duration: 23:53

This week’s Open Mic guest is Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. Despite many obstacles, the U.S. dairy industry enjoyed a record year for exports in 2022. Dykes hopes that pattern will continue as consumers around the globe search for affordable protein supplies. In this interview, Dykes appeals to the Biden administration to be more aggressive in negotiating trade opportunities for the dairy industry. He also shares his frustration with recent USDA recommendations to limit milk choices in various government nutrition programs. Finally, Dykes appeals for unity as the dairy industry looks to reform milk price discovery in the U.S.


Kurt Coffey, Case IH

Duration: 23:20

This week’s Open Mic guest is Kurt Coffey, Vice President of Case IH North America. The farm machinery industry continues to enjoy robust demand from farmers nationwide despite ongoing challenges from inflation, labor and shipping infrastructure. Coffey says the farm machinery pool is aging, and customers are anxious to acquire new technologies to offset a reduced labor force and meet sustainability goals. Coffey says autonomy and artificial intelligence are rapidly advancing in the farm machinery industry, and electric tractors are being introduced into the machinery pool.