This week’s Open Mic guest is Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council and the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance co-chair. After a year of negotiations, specialty crop producers have come to a conclusion on their priorities for the 2023 farm bill. In this interview, Quarles outlines a number of their objectives and responds to issues of trade, crop protection and sustainability. Quarles says improvements in crop insurance and risk management tools can benefit the outlook for growers of specialty crops, which accounts for more than half the farm gate value of crops produced in the U.S.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb. In this interview, Fischer explains the need for legislation to approve year-round sales of E-15 for the nation. She looks forward to crafting a new farm bill but admits nutrition will again be challenging for both sides of the aisle. She stands firmly against Mexico’s ban on genetically modified corn and says trading partners must be held accountable to their commitments. Fischer supports the nation’s checkoff programs and opposes legislation to add restrictions to their operations.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Virginia Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger. The 7th District Representative is a strong supporter of conservation, risk management and nutrition programs, but like others in the legislature, recognizes the budget constraints in writing new farm language this year. Spanberger says the implications of Russia’s attack on Ukraine and closer ties between Vladimir Putin and China are concerning. She sees the need for both border security and immigration reform. She shares concerns about an adequate work force. Spanberger believes minor changes could make the School Lunch Program and SNAP more effective for children and those families in need.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. Despite many obstacles, the U.S. dairy industry enjoyed a record year for exports in 2022. Dykes hopes that pattern will continue as consumers around the globe search for affordable protein supplies. In this interview, Dykes appeals to the Biden administration to be more aggressive in negotiating trade opportunities for the dairy industry. He also shares his frustration with recent USDA recommendations to limit milk choices in various government nutrition programs. Finally, Dykes appeals for unity as the dairy industry looks to reform milk price discovery in the U.S.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Kurt Coffey, Vice President of Case IH North America. The farm machinery industry continues to enjoy robust demand from farmers nationwide despite ongoing challenges from inflation, labor and shipping infrastructure. Coffey says the farm machinery pool is aging, and customers are anxious to acquire new technologies to offset a reduced labor force and meet sustainability goals. Coffey says autonomy and artificial intelligence are rapidly advancing in the farm machinery industry, and electric tractors are being introduced into the machinery pool.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade. The group recently hosted a fly-in to give members the opportunity to encourage both Congress and the Biden administration to exert more energy on opening global market access through expanded trade agreements. Kuehl says trade should be a bipartisan issue, and legislative leaders must push the administration to act in the global trade arena. U.S. agriculture export value set a record last year, but this year's ag imports are expected to exceed export totals. Kuehl says it’s been a decade since the U.S. signed a free-trade agreement with Central America, and other countries have signed hundreds of deals expanding opportunities for their products.