The "dairy cliff" has been avoided, leaving many dairy producers frustrated with the failure of Congress to adopt much needed reforms. However, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) is pleased with the additional time to rethink policy options, such as those offered last year by Reps. Bob Goodlatte and David Scott. On this week's Open Mic, Jerry Slominski, Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs for IDFA, explains his association's views on dairy policy reforms, shares concerns about declining domestic consumption of milk and the terrific opportunities for the U.S. dairy industry in expanding exports.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Brad Nordholm, president and CEO of Farmer Mac. Farmland values have seen a tremendous appreciation over the past several months despite questions over the outlook for commodity prices and current inflationary pressures. In this interview, Nordholm discusses the similarities and differences between the farm economy of the 1980s and today. Nordholm applauds congressional approval of the infrastructure bill and questions if carbon capture will prove a meaningful source of income for farmers. He also embraces the challenge of bringing in the next generation of farmers and ranchers in this economic climate and is keeping a watchful eye on the extended drought in the West.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The 900 consumer-owned coops in the nation are generally on solid footing and able to meet the needs of rural communities in the 47 states they serve. However, meeting the need for additional power demands will mean a significant investment in securing the base load as well as infrastructure. Matheson says over 60% of the current electric supply is being met with the burning of fossil fuels. Additional demand will need to be met with a reliable power supply. Electric cooperatives are assisting rural residents to gain access to broadband and Matheson hopes more cooperatives will expand service to more residents and at higher speeds.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Mike Seyfert, President and CEO of the National Grain and Feed Association. NFGA celebrates its 125th anniversary this week and maintains the same objectives and mission statement that brought the group together over a century ago. Seyfert says NGFA members celebrate House approval of the Infrastructure Bill and look forward to much needed improvements in the nation’s roads, bridges and waterways. Seyfert says NGFA supports competition in the rail industry and continued service to local elevators even to the last mile of service. NGFA supports funding toward expansion of conservation practices on working lands but is concerned with programs that would idle additional acres. Seyfert echoes comments from legislators that congressional ag leaders should be responsible for amending farm programs. NGFA supports free trade and would welcome attempts to see the U.S. join the CPTPP.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Andy LaVigne, president and CEO of the American Seed Trade Association. While farmers grapple with the price and availability of fertilizer and crop protection products for 2022, LaVigne says the seed industry should be well supplied and ready to meet seed demand for the new year. LaVigne says the seed industry needs consistent regulatory rules from Washington and uniform acceptance and guidance on new plant breeding techniques. LaVigne says global acceptance of new crop traits is essential to help farmers meet their production and sustainability goals. LaVigne sees new plant-based proteins, fuels and products as opportunities for growth for farmers and seed providers.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark. The Arkansas First District Representative isn’t a fan of the infrastructure packages under consideration in Washington. As a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, Crawford believes climate-smart agriculture programs and conservation spending should fall under the ag leadership of legislators. He doesn’t see an urgency to approve new funds now that amend or compete with existing farm programs. Crawford is outspoken on what he sees as China’s growing influence in Latin America and trade tactics that undermine U.S. national security. He also discusses the lack of new trade agreements and prospects for immigration reform.