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 Zea says an outdated and antiquated locks and dams infrastructure continues to support a large percentage of the nation’s GDP.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 Chef José Andrés. The world-renowned, chef, author and humanitarian believes the power of food can change the world. Andrés recently announced a partnership with George Washington University to build a Global Food Institute to lead the world in food system delivery. Andrés says providing humanitarian food assistance may alleviate an immediate need for hungry nations or those experiencing tragedy, but a long-term investment is needed to support local farms and food systems. Andrés believes in a central government strategy focused on food to change people’s lives and the health of the planet
This week’s Open Mic guest is Neil Caskey, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association. At the time Congress is preparing to write a new farm bill, corn farmers are facing a period of high input costs and declining crop prices. Questions facing the future of ethanol consumption in the U.S. and challenges on the trade front with Mexico are all issues bearing down on corn farmers nationwide. Caskey says the country’s energy policy is also a concern and approval of the Next Generation Fuels Act is key to farmers and rural America.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Kevin Lucke, president of Chevron Renewable Energy Group. Chevron’s 2022 purchase of the Renewable Energy Group represents a significant paradigm shift in the energy industry, but the acquisition is just a portion of the global company’s effort to provide low-carbon fuels for its customers. Lucke sees tremendous potential in renewable biodiesel and is collaborating with industry and farmers to boost the production of renewable fuel in addition to their petroleum-based products. Lucke believes in an “all of the above” approach to the nation’s energy needs but sees tremendous growth potential in renewable fuels.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Meagan Kaiser, chair of the United Soybean Board. For more than 30 years, the soybean checkoff board has been investing farmer dollars to improve both opportunities and sustainability practices for soybean growers in the U.S. Kaiser says investments decades before in biodiesel and the food industry are now paying big dividends for growers, industry, the environment and consumers. Kaiser is just back from Rome and a meeting with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. She sees opportunity in the Farmers for Soil Health Partnership and praises the cooperation between USDA and agriculture groups to improve productivity and farmer contribution for a better environment.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Tom Ryan, President of Truterra. Sustainability has become a new hurdle for farmers, agribusiness, industry and policymakers to address. Ryan says the private industry willing to invest in sustainable agriculture practices are as diverse as the farmers and soil they till to meet the demands placed on their overall productivity. Truterra, the Sustainability Division of Land O Lakes is helping to bridge the opportunities of sustainable ag practices between those companies willing to invest and those farmers who have proven willing to embrace agronomic practices benefitting both productivity and sustainability. Ryan believes cooperation between farmers, USDA, ag retailers and industry can lead to shared success in environmental stewardship.