This week’s Open Mic guest is Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn. In a state noted for its lakes and natural beauty, dry weather remains a huge issue for livestock and crop farmers alike. Smith says additional federal support may be needed in her state and others. In this interview, Smith discusses the two infrastructure packages at play on Capitol Hill as well as concerns over federal spending. Smith is a strong supporter of the Renewable Fuel Standard but agrees with a balanced “all of the above” attitude toward the nation’s energy needs. She shares concerns over cattle price discovery and sees labor issues as a top priority for the ag industry.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member John Boozman. The Arkansas Republican isn’t pleased with the process of budget reconciliation for the Build Back Better Plan now before Congress. Boozman questions not only the sum of funds but the lack of detail in how the agriculture dollars will be used. While stepped-up basis may be preserved with the plan in its current form, Boozman says that can quickly change and says lowering the minimum inheritance tax thresholds could have the same detrimental effect on the transfer of farms and small businesses to the next generation. Labor is still a top issue for agriculture, but he’s doubtful this Congress will embrace the challenge.
This week’s Open Mic Guest is Megan Kaiser, treasurer and five-year member of the United Soybean Board. As a farmer and soil scientist, Kaiser says growers are reaping the benefits of previous checkoff investments in new uses and sustainability, leading to better soil health, increased productivity and a healthier environment. Farmer-funded research has also paved the way for cleaner air in major U.S. cities using biodiesel, biodegradable food and beverage packaging and more potential for food as medicine. She also discusses the need for better connectivity in rural areas so that more comprehensive data can be collected and analyzed.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Illinois 17th District Representative Cheri Bustos. As a leader of the Democratic Party’s effort to strengthen the relationship with rural voters, Bustos believes there’s universal support in the House for the $1-trillion dollar infrastructure package. Bustos believes the Biden administration will deliver on its promise to protect farmers and small business owners in the larger reconciliation package referred to as “Build Back Better”. She supports an “all of the above” approach to the nation’s transportation fuel sector and has introduced legislation offering tax incentives for auto manufacturers to offer vehicles to run on higher ethanol blends.
This week’s Open Mic guest is U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. On the sidelines of a meeting with constituents early last week, the senior Senator from Kentucky took time to discuss the nation’s fiscal policy, infrastructure spending, the conflict in Afghanistan, climate and voter rights issues. McConnell discusses the political climate in Washington and the nation’s energy policy as well as the state of the hemp industry following the 2018 farm bill.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rita Hite, Executive Vice President for External Relations and Policy for the American Forest Foundation. As the nation’s leaders draw attention to climate change and carbon sequestration, the American Forest Foundation touts the role families and individual forest land owners can play in pulling carbon from the atmosphere. While crop and livestock producers may offer more immediate results, Hite says forest lands can easily double their benefit to the atmosphere. Improved results may be slower in coming but the end result is greater returns for rural economies and verified results from wooded acres.