From his work with the Boll Weevils to the Blue Dogs, former Congressman Charlie Stenholm established a reputation for getting things done in Congress through bipartisan alliances - something that's almost unheard of in today's highly polarized political environment. In this Agri-Pulse Open Mic interview, he tells us why he believes a short-term increase in the debt limit and passage of a new federal budget are crucial to getting a farm bill passed this year. And the life-long farmer has some advice to farm organizations about how they need to change to address some of the political and agricultural challenges of the future including food, water and energy. A member of the House Committee on Agriculture throughout his 26-year House career, Stenholm served as the ranking Democrat for his last eight years until 2004. Currently, Stenholm is a Senior Policy Advisor at OFW Law.
This week’s Open Mic guest is U.S. Senator Charles Grassley. The Iowa ag leader is in the thick of issues from renewable fuel policy to global trade agreements. Grassley wants a government response to cattle price discovery and offers a willingness to compromise on policy options. The meatpacking industry will be the focus of a pair of hearings this week, one by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and another by a House Agriculture subcommittee. He also offers insights on confined animal feeding operations, interstate commerce, sustainable agriculture, EPA and USTR.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. As a third-generation farmer, Tester and his wife are seeing firsthand the devastating impact of drought in the West. Tester supports infrastructure spending and government outlays to pull the country out of the pandemic-induced recession. In this interview, he speaks to the issues of consolidation, competition and transparency in the cattle market as well as California’s Proposition 12 and recently proposed legislation to eliminate CAFOs by 2040.
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 Zea says an outdated and antiquated locks and dams infrastructure continues to support a large percentage of the nation’s GDP.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 Karsten Temme, CEO of Pivot Bio. Genetic engineering of commercial crops has brought tremendous increases in productivity and sustainability. Microbial science is proving its worth in preserving plant health and providing much-needed nutrients for sustainable production. Pivot Bio offers biological solutions to plant nutrition to displace synthetic fertilizer with nitrogen from the atmosphere. In this interview, Temme outlines the science that could provide tremendous strides in productivity and sustainability.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI-The Food Industry Association. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a tremendous strain on nearly every aspect of the food industry and seemingly overnight changes in consumer shopping patterns. Sarasin suggests many of those new paradigms are here to stay. FMI’s Grocery Shopper Trends survey indicates technology will play a greater role in how consumers shop for food and some well-defined differences in shopper attitudes and motivations. Sarasin suggests the farmer’s role in sustainable food production has an even greater role in consumer food selection.