Balanced Reporting. Trusted Insights. Thursday, January 27, 2022

Agri-Pulse Open Mic Interview

In depth interviews with leaders in ag policy
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ASTA President and CEO Andy LaVigne


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.


Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark.


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.


CropLife America CEO Chris Novak


This week’s Open Mic guest is Chris Novak, president and CEO of CropLife America. The crop protection industry is working to overcome challenges on a number of fronts to provide an adequate supply of products for farmers in the 2022 crop year. Chris Novak says CLA members are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, labor issues, ingredient availability as well as shipping and transportation hurdles. Novak says the industry is challenged by a domestic regulatory structure that struggles with the weight of public scrutiny and a lack of trust of approved science for crop protection tools farmers need to sustainably meet the challenge of providing food, fiber and fuel for the nation.


National Pork Board CEO Bill Even


This week’s Open Mic guest is Bill Even, CEO of the National Pork Board. The nation’s swine producers are cautiously optimistic given consistent domestic demand for pork and increases in volume and value of U.S. pork export sales. On the home front, Even suggests the industry is focused on protecting the herd from African swine fever and is working at every level along with USDA and other government agencies to safeguard animals and the supply chain. Even says the pork checkoff continues to share the sustainability story of the nation’s hog farmers and is working to identify avenues to see pork production is carbon neutral in the very near future. In the meat case, Even says there’s tremendous consumer acceptance for ground pork and the industry is ramping up to satisfy the consumer appetite for the versatile protein source.


Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio


This week’s Open Mic guest is Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. As a key member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, the Ohio Democrat realizes the need for infrastructure spending for his state and rural communities across the nation. Brown supports the Biden administration’s Build Back Better proposal and believes the massive effort will be funded in ways that prevent a significant strain on the U.S. budget. He dismisses concerns about potential estate tax burdens on family farms. Brown supports renewable energy but holds to an “all of the above” approach to the nation’s energy needs.


Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.


This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Dusty Johnson. The South Dakota Republican says the verdict is still out on how much this season’s dry weather will impact farmers and ranchers in his state. He also says the nation should not be naïve to the lasting impact that huge federal spending will have on programs Washington will be able to afford in years to come. Johnson prefers a bipartisan solution to federal infrastructure investments and opposes the “one-party” approach to spending issues. He’s offered legislation to reel in losses in exports from container shipping practices and appreciates President Joe Biden’s support for local meat processing.