This week’s Open Mic guest is Ian Jefferies, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads. The rail industry is enjoying an upswing in shipping volumes with the return of global demand for ag commodities following trade tensions with China and the ill effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jefferies says the industry partnered with agriculture and others in the call for Congress to approve USMCA and is hopeful global trade opportunities will expand. While the rail industry invests billions in its own infrastructure annually, they’re hopeful the incoming Biden administration will bring renewed financial support for the nation’s dilapidated bridges and locks and dams. AAR supports an updated highway bill and believes the rail industry can play a significant role in climate priorities in the 117th Congress.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Incorporated. Few commodity groups in the nation have seen greater challenges than dairy farmers over the past several years. The COVID pandemic, higher feed costs, consolidation in the processing industry and drought are just a few of the challenges producers have endured. Yet, prices have stabilized and consumers continue to seek dairy products. Tom Gallagher says the industry is adapting to marketing concepts that reach younger consumers and sharing the dairy message of sustainability to an information thirsty consumer.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Dan Glickman. After serving 18 years in Congress representing the Kansas 4th district, Glickman served as Secretary of Agriculture from 1995 to 2001. He chaired the Motion Picture Association for six years and recently authored a book, "Laughing at Myself. My education in Congress, on the Farm and at the Movies." As head of USDA, Glickman dealt with diversity issues and experienced resistance to genetically enhanced crops face to face in Rome. In this interview, Glickman discusses the need for an infrastructure package, immigration reform and the government’s role in climate policy.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. Johansson is a first-generation olive and citrus grower and well versed in the environmental, regulatory and social obstacles of farming on the West Coast. With a push toward climate-smart agriculture from the state and federal government, Johansson says farmers in his state shoulder a tremendous regulatory burden in addition to one of the worst droughts the state has ever experienced. Johansson discusses the ideological disagreement with those who call for land preservation and oppose working lands. Johansson says a shortage of farmworkers is an ongoing issue for California farmers and is impacting the variety of crops grown in his state.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill. As a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the subject of funding President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package was before members last week. The Illinois 18thDistrict Representative says the nation’s roads, bridges, railways and inland waterways desperately need an influx of federal dollars, but not from increased taxes. LaHood believes Washington should play a role in developing climate-based revenue opportunities for farmers but doesn’t support heavy-handed mandates to accomplish environmental goals. LaHood favors reform of the WTO and a return to the CPTPP to expand exports.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Todd Van Hoose, President and CEO of the Farm Credit Council. An upswing in commodity prices is leading to a better economic outlook for many farms across the nation. Van Hoose suggests higher crop prices have helped the balance sheet of a number of operations but is also challenging livestock and dairy producers. As a member of Rebuild Rural, FCC is supportive of investment in rural infrastructure but has reservations about changes in tax laws to pay for projects. Van Hoose is encouraged by the Biden trade agenda and believes Washington has a role to play in facilitating climate smart revenue opportunities for farms and ranches.