This week’s guest on Open Mic is Ray Starling, Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture, Trade and Food Assistance. With a rich career demonstrating a strong advocacy for agriculture, North Carolina native Starling finds himself in the middle of critical decisions over global trade, renewable fuels, and future farm policy. Starling shares industry concerns over possible Chinese trade retaliation and understands the levity of a pending White House decision on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Starling says the report from the President’s Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity is a road map for the White House goals for rural America.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Congressman Rodney Davis. The fourth term Republican reports tariffs and renewable fuel are the top two concerns among his constituents in the thirteenth district. Davis supports President Trump’s efforts to open markets and level the playing field for U.S. farmers and ranchers, but hopes for a quick conclusion in the trade war. Davis is outspoken in his call to bring the USMCA trade agreement to the House floor and says his proposed legislation on implementing the Renewable Fuels Standard and granting small refinery exemptions will work hand in hand with recent objectives announced by the White House.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Kevin Ross, president of the National Corn Growers Association. In a season of challenges from weather, global market access, and low prices, Ross says there is a certain anxiety being felt by corn farmers nationwide. Ross says NCGA is encouraged by the Trump administration’s commitment to a new set of rules to administer the Renewable Fuels Standard that guarantees minimum blending targets will be met. Ross says corn growers desperately want to see USMCA approved, a Japanese trade deal signed and an end to the trade war with China.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Nathan Kauffman, vice president and Omaha branch executive with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. While the farm economy continues to struggle in a multi-year downturn, the overall balance sheet remains strong. Land values remain high and interest rates are low, which has allowed farmers options to restructure debt. Kauffman says Market Facilitation Program payments helped farm balance sheets last year, but are only a short term fix to an enduringly challenged financial outlook.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee Mike Conaway. The Texas 11th District Representative says the nation’s farmers and ranchers are enduring a long run of tight financial conditions. He says the 2018 farm bill offers the best policy Washington could afford to help producers weather difficult times and fully supports the Trump Administration’s use of CCC funds to provide financial support for farmers due to lost market access. Conaway says congress needs to approve USMCA and says it is the gold standard for future trade agreements.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is the President and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. While dairy policy improvements in the 2018 farm bill have helped the financial plight of many milk producers, Vilsack says it’s the global trade front that presents the best opportunity for improvement to the bottom line. Vilsack hopes for a positive conclusion to a trade deal with Japan and says the Chinese market holds tremendous opportunity for U.S. dairy. Vilsack highlights global paradigms that could lead to greater demand for U.S. dairy products from both health conscious consumers and for feed for growing livestock herds.