Shining Light on Farm & Food Policy for 20 Years. Monday, April 15, 2024

Agri-Pulse Open Mic Interview

In depth interviews with leaders in ag policy
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Meagan Kaiser, United Soybean Board

Duration: 22:51

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.

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Barbara O’Brien, President and CEO of Dairy Management Incorporated

Duration: 24:25

This week’s Open Mic guest is Barbara O’Brien, President and CEO of Dairy Management Incorporated.  O’Brien has more than 20 years of experience working for dairy farmers and in the dairy industry. Through challenges of the cyclical nature of the industry as well as the pandemic and shifting consumer trends, the industry is holding it’s own with consumers and developing partnerships with the food industry that’s expanding the positive message of milk and other dairy products. O’Brien addresses the effort the dairy industry has put forward toward good nutrition, sustainable production and overall product safety.

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Michael AuBuchon, Managing Director of Fuel Strategies and Management, Southwest Airlines Company

Duration: 24:48

This week’s Open Mic guest is Michael AuBuchon, Managing Director of Fuel Strategies and Management for Southwest Airlines Company. Farmers and the renewable fuel industry are eagerly anticipating the exponential growth potential of satisfying demand from the airline industry for sustainable aviation fuel. AuBuchon reports a significant investment from Southwest Airlines Company for the development and production of SAF from renewable ethanol. Southwest has targeted goals toward ramping up production of cleaner burning fuel to help meet their climate goals by 2030 and beyond. AuBuchon says decisions over the amended GREET model and pending tax advantages from the Inflation Reduction Act as well as other state government incentives will play a vital role in meeting their demand for millions of gallons of cleaner burning fuel for their planes.


Dr. Georgia Machell, Interim President and CEO of the National WIC Association

Duration: 21:10

This week’s Open Mic guest is Dr. Georgia Machell, Interim President and CEO of the National WIC Association. The WIC program is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.  The program finds itself a beneficiary of additional financial resources but also in need of legislation to extend coverage to a growing population in need. Machell says barely half of those who qualify for services actually are receiving benefits. The Modern WIC Act would provide additional funds, but political gridlock in Washington over nutrition spending doesn’t provide much hope for a quick resolution. Machell says WIC administrators are working to address program diversity issues. 


Sen. Joni Ernst, R - Iowa

Duration: 21:11

This week’s Open Mic guest is U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. Agriculture was once a strong contributor to a positive trade balance, but is forecast to be in deficit this year. Ernst faults the Biden administration’s lack of effort in securing global trade deals for U.S. farmers. The Iowa Republican sees little chance for a farm bill this calendar year but hopes for better chances in 2025. Ernst also discusses results of a GAO report indicating the majority of USDA employees have not returned to work in their Washington, D.C. offices.


Julie Anna Potts, Meat Institute

Duration: 26:38

This week’s Open Mic guest is Julie Anna Potts, CEO of the Meat Institute. A new logo and brand identity of the group formerly known as the North American Meat Institute is being celebrated this week at the Annual Meat Conference in Nashville. The group’s purpose is summarized to highlight both nourishment and sustainability. In this interview, Potts discusses the group’s mission, efforts toward sustainability, the Biden administration’s amendments to the Packers and Stockyards Act, the new voluntary Product of the USA meat labels, Proposition 12 and the ill effects of the smallest cattle inventory since the 1950’s.