This week’s Open Mic guest is Rob Larew, President of the National Farmers Union. Along with other farm groups in this pandemic season, the NFU held its 119th annual meeting virtually with an impressive display of political leaders discussing issues facing the industry in the year ahead. Larew says there was a tone of optimism in the membership ranks approaching the new season. NFU members are anxious to see continued progress in moving past COVID-19 and support new stimulus measures for the industry including minority farmers. NFU is “cautiously optimistic” on the Biden agenda including trade and renewable fuel policy and is hopeful the 117th Congress will address the ag labor deficit as well as bring science based, voluntary climate policy to the nation’s farm and ranch community.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Colin Woodall, CEO of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the price discovery issue and the disparity between what producers are receiving for their animals and what consumers are paying for beef from the meat case. Consolidation in the meatpacking industry has drawn the most criticism, but analysis by academia and economists on Capitol Hill point to a number of different sources for the imbalance. In this interview, Woodall discusses the challenge before the industry and implications of certain proposals as well as the need for growth in the global trade arena.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Krysta Harden, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Harden began her tenure as leader of the group last year and is the third president of USDEC since it was formed in 1995 by Dairy Management Incorporated. Competition in global dairy trade is fierce, but Harden says U.S. farmers who produce high-quality products and ingredients are gaining global market share. She says shipping woes plague dairy exports and threaten to have a lasting impact on global customers. Internet shopping is helping grow demand for U.S. dairy as is a more health-conscious customer base worldwide. Harden is encouraged by a recent trade ruling against Canada’s dairy policy and hopes the Biden administration can be aggressive in supporting additional trade opportunities for U.S. milk producers.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers. Wheat growers face unique obstacles in Washington to maintain policy supporting the various regions and classes of the food grain crop in the nation. Goule believes the Build Back Better Act may still see compromise and approval on Capitol Hill and says wheat growers face challenges with potential cover crop policies and other climate measures. Wheat growers support free trade and look to the Biden administration to open doors to new markets and hold trading partners accountable to previous trade agreements.
This week’s Open Mic guest is American Soybean Association President Brad Doyle, who says the availability of crop protection products and fertilizer is providing a challenging start to the 2022 crop year. The Arkansas farmer is encouraged to see discussion on a new farm bill beginning in Washington and is mindful of the political will to develop climate-smart policy. Doyle says soybean farmers have voluntarily adopted conservation practices on millions of acres and are counting on Congress to keep risk management as a top priority in new legislation. Doyle says soybean growers want to maintain global market access and are ready to step up production for next-generation renewable fuels.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Dan Basse, president of AgResource Company. Commodity and financial markets have been tossed on the waves of COVID-19 and its variants. For 2022, Basse hopes to see a deceleration of cases and more stability in markets. He says inflation is an issue but the bigger story in agriculture is that of demand. The globe’s thirst for food, feed and renewable energy is driving an appetite for commodities that will challenge the production capacity of the planet’s farmers and ranchers. Domestically, Basse says Congress should readdress its 2007 energy policy to provide farmers and investors with clear direction. For now, laws in California and other states are incentivizing next-generation biofuels - heightening demand for oilseed crops and ultimately bringing a shift in planted acreage.