With incredible heat and drought conditions across much of the U.S., some have compared this time period to previous record-breaking droughts dating back to the 1930's Dust Bowl years. Yet with new technologies and conservation techniques, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Ann Mills explains how farmers and ranchers are preserving precious resources despite the weather-related challenges and how new conservation innovation grants might lead to even better practices. Mills, who previously directed the Senate office of Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and worked on bio-fuels issues for then-Congressman Richard Durbin, talks about how a new farm bill might shape future conservation programs and how environmental markets could emerge as a new revenue stream for producers.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn. The House Agriculture Committee Democrat played an integral role in seeing the Lower Food and Fuel Cost Act across the finish line, which she says would help address supply chain risks, lower the cost of food and gas prices, strengthen the food supply chain and ensure robust competition in the meat and poultry sector. In this interview, Craig discusses her ongoing concern for the economy and the financial obstacles of writing new farm and nutrition legislation. While she describes herself as a "all of the above" energy Democrat, Craig is a staunch supporter of renewable fuels and calls for additional spending on infrastructure to bring lower cost biofuels to motorists.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Constance Cullman, president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association. Aside from concern over available bulk commodity supplies for the season ahead, Cullman says the nation’s feed manufacturers share concerns about maintaining and growing global market access as well as trade agreements that provide needed mineral inputs for their customers. Cullman quips that the European Union’s regulatory structure provides greater access to feed ingredients that improve herd sustainability than the U.S. Cullman says the nation’s road and railway transportation system is creating tremendous hardship on getting feed to livestock producers in a timely manner. AFIA implores Washington to take every available precaution to protect the nation’s livestock from foreign animal disease suggesting an outbreak would not only affect meat exports, but feed as well.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Heather Hampton Knodle, President of the American Agri-Women. Hampton is an Illinois farm girl who married a farmer and continues a lifestyle of stewardship in the soil. The AAW were in Washington last week to meet with government agencies and leaders on Capitol Hill. Hampton Knodle says AAW wants freedom to pursue stewardship practices to provide food, fuel and fiber for the nation with greater certainty of farm programs and regulations from Washington.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jim Sutter, CEO of the U.S. Soybean Export Council. Sutter sees an end to the current short supply of soybean oil and other vegetable crops. He expects global soybean farmers to respond to higher prices with increased plantings to meet growing demand. Sutter expects soybean oil demand to increase and suggests USSEC is working to grow market opportunities for soybean meal globally. Sutter is pleased with the U.S. investment in infrastructure but is concerned that the Biden administration doesn’t have Trade Promotion Authority with this Congress needed to ratify any new trade agreement as written.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. As the nation celebrates June Dairy Month, there is no rest for the dairy industry facing ongoing recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic, trade challenges and supply chain issues. NMPF is calling on the Biden FDA to crack down on plant-based dairy substitute products and keep pressure on the Canadian government to fulfill its promises made under the USMCA trade deal. Mulhern says the 2018 farm bill made positive strides for dairy farmers nationwide but believes more should be done to protect the nation’s small and medium sized producers. Mulhern says dairy has a positive sustainability story that could be even greater with further incentives from Washington.