Mike Johanns is an Iowa farm boy who headed west to Nebraska to serve as governor before heading east to serve as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in the GW Bush administration before heading back to win an open U.S. Senate seat almost four years ago. He spoke about the politics of the pending farm bill and the challenges caused by geographical conflict. He also talked about the changing landscape for revered Republicans who are losing out to more conservative opponents and the surprising victory of a Nebraska Sandhills legislator who is now the Republican candidate for Nebraska's other seat in the U.S. Senate.
Johanns heads up the "Aggies for Romney" campaign and was asked if he would accept the vice presidential slot with Governor Romney on the 2012 Repubican Ticket.
This week’s Open Mic guest is South Dakota U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson. As the lame-duck session wraps up the 116th Congress, Johnson believes a targeted COVID relief package could be approved. Johnson speaks to opportunities and challenges from the Biden Climate agenda including the Paris Climate Accord. Johnson discusses mandatory price reporting issues that will come before legislators and the PRICE Act that addresses many concerns about cattle price discovery. He says there’s still a need for nutrition reform and expects the issue to see attention in debate for the 2023 farm bill. Johnson is skeptical the new administration can bring consensus on immigration reform.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Colin Woodall, CEO of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The beef producers have seen their fair share of adversity from the COVID-19 pandemic, but have also seen a resurgence in consumer demand with more meals consumed at home. In this interview, Woodall discusses opportunities for direct marketing to consumers and the need for additional regional processing facilities. Woodall speaks to NCBA’s efforts to increase price discovery in the auction market and addresses reform efforts of the beef checkoff. Woodall says NCBA stands ready to work with the incoming Biden Administration’s regulatory and legislative agenda and is also working on sustainability strategies.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va. After gaining another term to represent her state’s 7th district, Spanberger is ready to begin work on developing agriculture’s role in combatting climate change. Spanberger says the base of a green economy should give farmers a seat at the table when discussing national issues like health care, rural broadband and developing innovative policies to sequester carbon and promote rural economic growth. She supports investment in the nation’s infrastructure and believes the Biden administration will be instrumental in repairing challenged trade relationships and developing new global marketing opportunities for farmers and ranchers.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Betsy Ward, president and CEO of the USA Rice Federation. As an umbrella trade organization representing the sum of the rice industry, Ward speaks to the opportunities and challenges seen in global and domestic markets as well as the impact of the COVID pandemic on consumers around the world. Trade barriers have been an obstacle to the bottom line of U.S. rice producers, but recent trade agreements are bringing new opportunities for her members. Ward says government risk management programs have been successful in helping producers survive the cyclical nature of the industry and looks to build new relationships in Washington to maintain a healthy and viable industry.
This week’s Open Mic guest is EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. In a conversation just days before the election, Administrator Wheeler discussed the agency’s recent decision to extend the registration of certain dicamba products and amendments to the exclusion zones for ground and aerial pesticide application. Administrator Wheeler discusses the judicial challenges that threaten EPA jurisdiction of various chemistries as well as the request for information surrounding the agency’s decisions to grant RFS exemptions to some of the nation’s small refineries. Wheeler says EPA should regulate, but not dictate, options for the nation’s energy needs.