The legislative effort to end the US Trade Embargo with Cuba has begun with bipartisan legislation introduced by Minnesota's senior U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. The 'Freedom to Export to Cuba' bill would eliminate the trade embargo in place for more than 50 years. In this week's Open Mic, Sen. Klobuchar explains why policy changes in Cuba and the construction of a new port facility make the time right to turn the page on U.S. trade policy toward the communist island nation.
This week’s Open Mic guest is, Minnesota Congresswoman Angie Craig. The 2nd District Democrat is a staunch supporter of both farm and nutrition programs and recognizes the challenge of meeting the needs of the nation while keeping an eye on overall spending. Craig supports Title 1 spending in the farm bill as well as crop insurance but says the biggest obstacle in writing new farm policy is protecting the interest of small and beginning farmers. Craig admits the nutrition title has a hefty price tag but doesn’t believe this is a time for Washington to turn its back on families in need. Craig supports renewable fuels and will again work in the new Congress to bring higher renewable blends to the nation’s consumers. Craig isn’t satisfied with the EPA’s new Waters of the U.S. definition and would like to see a stronger push by the Biden administration on gaining market access for the nation’s farmers and ranchers.
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 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 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.