Our guest on Open Mic is National Farmers Union President, Roger Johnson. As the group prepares for their 2015 convention, Johnson shares his support for current farm bill and opposes any attempt to return to open policy debate. NFU members oppose Trade Promotion Authority for the Obama Administration, but support liberalizing trade with Cuba. Johnson and the NFU are strong supporters of Country of Origin Labeling policy and don't believe Canadian trade retaliation is imminent. The NFU stepped away from the Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group and Johnson says he's certain the NFU won't support the current memorandum of understanding being circulated by the group.
In this week’s Open Mic, Ambassador Darci Vetter, Chief Agriculture Negotiator with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, provides an update on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPA) negotiations, as well as the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks. Vetter says the nation’s agriculture industry cannot afford to be isolated from the other ninety-five percent of the globe’s population or growth in its middle class. Support from farmers and ranchers will be crucial in advancing an ambitious trade agenda, she adds.
The legislative effort to end the US Trade Embargo with Cuba has begun with bipartisan legislation introduced by Minnesota's senior U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. The 'Freedom to Export to Cuba' bill would eliminate the trade embargo in place for more than 50 years. In this week's Open Mic, Sen. Klobuchar explains why policy changes in Cuba and the construction of a new port facility make the time right to turn the page on U.S. trade policy toward the communist island nation.
Farmers are facing a cyclical turn in the industry with a period of lower crop prices, reduced net farm income and a likely increase in interest rates.This week's guest on Open Mic is David Lynn, Senior Vice-President for Financial Services with Farm Credit Mid-America. Lynn believes the industry is better prepared than in years past to weather the financial downturn. Lynn says farmers are more dependent on crop insurance than ever before and he fears program changes could put more farmers at risk. Lynn believes the uncertain US tax code is a challenge for farmers and says commercial ag lenders would be better served to look for ways to work together to serve rural communities than challenging a lending institution that operates under strict guidelines from the federal government.
USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden says it is critical for the government to provide a reasonable safety net for farmers, but that all programs- including crop insurance and conservation - must be scrutinized as part of the annual budget process. She shares her perspectives on farm bill implementation, USDA’s budget plan for 2016, and the importance of giving President Obama “fast track” authority to expand trade. Harden says the USDA will soon release its definition of “actively engaged in farming” with intent to have the policy in place for the 2016 crop year after an open comment period.
International trade can be a “gold mine” for beef and pork producers as well as the grain growers they rely on for feed. However, U.S. red meat exports are challenged from lower domestic production and the rising value of the U.S. dollar. In this week’s Open Mic in-depth interview, Philip Seng, President and CEO of the US Meat Export Federation, says the value, quality and consistency of the US product has helped the industry maintain and expand its place in the globe – despite tough competition from places like Australia and the European Union. Seng says over the next decade Asia will be home to 65 percent of the world’s middle class and that’s another reason to concentrate on global trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership.