This week’s Open Mic guest is Dr. Nathan Pumplin, president and CEO of Norfolk Healthy Produce. Improvements in mechanization, nutrient management and crop protection have helped farmers make tremendous strides in productivity and sustainability, but Pumplin believes the industry is on the cusp of a tremendous revolution of more and better food for consumers through genetic engineering. The company is working with Washington now to gain full commercial status for a purple tomato with improved health benefits for consumers. Pumplin responds to questions on the safety of the science behind the new variety and the regulatory obstacles to growth in the industry.
This week’s guest is Kornelis “Kees” Huizinga, a member of the Global Farmer Network and farmer in central Ukraine. Since moving to Ukraine two decades ago, Kees Huizinga have seen exponential increases in planted area and production per hectare making them a major player in global markets. But Russia’s invasion of the country has brought major hardship on Ukraine farmers in the loss of crops, livestock and infrastructure. Many Ukraine farmers have been lost not just in battles but while tending their fields and caring for livestock. Kees says farmers today identify with their grandfathers who fought for freedom during World War II. And he emphasizes the need to continue supporting Ukraine’s military.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Chris Novak, President and CEO of CropLife America. With the dust still settling from the mid-term elections, officials with the crop protection industry have set their sights on the lame duck session of Congress, hopeful that Environmental Protection Agency funding and the Pesticide Registration Improvement Renewal Act can see action by legislators. Novak discusses the regulatory bottlenecks at EPA, the impacts on bringing new, more sustainable crop protection chemicals to market, as well as new questions by environmentalists about the Endangered Species Act. Novak says the industry is facing economic headwinds from higher energy and operating costs but expects to have products in place to meet farmer needs for the 2023 crop year.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Rick Crawford. The Arkansas Republican was elected to a 7th term in last week’s election. Looking forward, Crawford doesn’t expect significant legislation to come from a limited lame duck session and suggests narrow margins in the next Senate and House will require compromise and a bipartisan effort to accomplish much. Crawford suggests a more conciliatory tone from the White House could bring legislative victories in the new year. He expects a new farm bill to be marked up next year and doesn’t expect significant policy changes, but says reference prices for many commodities will need to be adjusted. Finally, Crawford offers caution when dealing with the Chinese.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Errico Auricchio, chairman of the Consortium of Common Food Names. The European Union has been successful in negotiating trade agreements that prevent producers of certain foods from selling in those markets unless they’re produced by EU member countries. Auricchio brought his family’s tradition of producing fine cheeses to the United States in the late 1970’s. Now, Wisconsin-based BelGioioso cheese, vineyards and other food companies are seeing limited access to global markets because of the EU’s GI claims. Auricchio and other members of the CCFN are urging Washington to step up efforts to maintain global opportunities for American food companies.
This week’s Open Mic guest is House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern. The Massachusetts Democrat is an outspoken supporter of government food and nutrition programs. McGovern strongly approves of President Joe Biden’s attention to health and nutrition and ending hunger in the United States by 2030 and says he will not support a new farm bill that does not support the White House initiatives toward ending hunger. McGovern scoffs at critics who suggest Democrats are to blame for inflation and a troubled economy. He questions sanctions without review and says relations with China require a delicate balance.