This week’s Open Mic guest is Tracy Zea, president and CEO of the Waterways Council, Inc. Formed about 20 years ago WCI’s mission is to lobby for improvements to the nation’s inland waterways system. Zea says an outdated and antiquated locks and dams infrastructure continues to support a large percentage of the nation’s GDP. While legislation authorizing the upgrade of a number of facilities has been approved by Congress, funding has been lacking to see actual work begin on these projects. Zea and WCI are hopeful President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan will include much-needed dollars to upgrade the river transportation system.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Constance Cullman, president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association. Aside from concern over available bulk commodity supplies for the season ahead, Cullman says the nation’s feed manufacturers share concerns about maintaining and growing global market access as well as trade agreements that provide needed mineral inputs for their customers. Cullman quips that the European Union’s regulatory structure provides greater access to feed ingredients that improve herd sustainability than the U.S. Cullman says the nation’s road and railway transportation system is creating tremendous hardship on getting feed to livestock producers in a timely manner. AFIA implores Washington to take every available precaution to protect the nation’s livestock from foreign animal disease suggesting an outbreak would not only affect meat exports, but feed as well.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Heather Hampton Knodle, President of the American Agri-Women. Hampton is an Illinois farm girl who married a farmer and continues a lifestyle of stewardship in the soil. The AAW were in Washington last week to meet with government agencies and leaders on Capitol Hill. Hampton Knodle says AAW wants freedom to pursue stewardship practices to provide food, fuel and fiber for the nation with greater certainty of farm programs and regulations from Washington.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jim Sutter, CEO of the U.S. Soybean Export Council. Sutter sees an end to the current short supply of soybean oil and other vegetable crops. He expects global soybean farmers to respond to higher prices with increased plantings to meet growing demand. Sutter expects soybean oil demand to increase and suggests USSEC is working to grow market opportunities for soybean meal globally. Sutter is pleased with the U.S. investment in infrastructure but is concerned that the Biden administration doesn’t have Trade Promotion Authority with this Congress needed to ratify any new trade agreement as written.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. As the nation celebrates June Dairy Month, there is no rest for the dairy industry facing ongoing recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic, trade challenges and supply chain issues. NMPF is calling on the Biden FDA to crack down on plant-based dairy substitute products and keep pressure on the Canadian government to fulfill its promises made under the USMCA trade deal. Mulhern says the 2018 farm bill made positive strides for dairy farmers nationwide but believes more should be done to protect the nation’s small and medium sized producers. Mulhern says dairy has a positive sustainability story that could be even greater with further incentives from Washington.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Glen Smith, chairman and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration. While the farm economy balance sheet is in no way as challenged as in the early 1980s, Chairman Smith suggests there are developing similarities. Smith says there are active farmers today who survived the farm crisis four decades ago and yet others who’ve not experienced the financial pressure that comes from high interest rates. Smith explains the need for a farm safety net and discusses the need to support young and beginning farmers as well as make solid investments in rural America.