As hundreds of barges sit stranded along the banks of the Ohio River, it’s no secret that are nation’s ailing locks and dams are in need of an update. This week’s guest on Open Mic is Mike Toohey, President and CEO of the Waterways Council Inc. He describes the struggle of keeping an antiquated system functional and efforts to find adequate funding to replace dilapidated structures which are so critical to the U.S. economy and agriculture’s global competitiveness. Toohey says proposed tax reform and the Trump administration’s proposal to invest in the nation’s infrastructure could help, but aren’t guaranteed.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Rod Hebrink, President and CEO of Compeer Financial. The lack of certainty from a new farm bill and weak commodity prices due to lost export markets and robust supplies have left farmers and lenders with a grim outlook for 2019. In this interview, Hebrink discusses the challenge of the unknown and the need for legislators and the White House to take action on farm policy, trade and regulations to help rural America prepare for the year ahead.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture Ted McKinney. While the Trump administration’s trade tactics have drawn both the praise and ire of commodity groups, McKinney’s attention to opening new markets and diversifying agriculture’s portfolio has been welcome news. In this interview the Hoosier native reports on his trade missions to Southern Africa and Central America as well as his hopes on bi-lateral negotiations with Japan and the European Union. McKinney also offers his thoughts on upcoming talks between the U.S. and China.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Polly Ruhland, CEO of the United Soybean Board. In this interview, Ruhland speaks to the challenges facing the soybean industry and the structural changes the farmer led group have made to refine their focus on both short and long term goals. Ruhland says collaborative efforts with commodity and industry partners as well as state organizations is helping grow demand in spite of present obstacles in global trade.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Paul Drazek, Managing Partner of DTB Associates. The Trump administration’s trade agenda has yielded positive results recently with new agreements with Korea, Canada and Mexico. However tariffs on steel and aluminum imports remain in place and continue to bring retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural commodities. Drazek questions the results of those trade deals and is skeptical of future negotiations with targeted nations by the White House. Drazek fears the ongoing trade war with China could linger.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Dr. Margaret Zeigler, Executive Director of the Global Harvest Initiative. The 9th annual GAP Report indicates a disturbing trend for global agriculture. While U.S. agriculture drowns in a surplus of bulk commodities, the global productivity trend falls short of the long range goal of meeting the food, fiber and fuel demands of a growing population. Zeigler says low income countries are especially deficient and would benefit from better trade relations, funding for research as well as public/private partnerships in food production.