A lot of politicians talk about the fiscal cliff, but dairy farmers are worried about the "dairy cliff" they face in January. If Congress fails to pass a new farm bill by year-end, dairymen will be first to fall under the 1949 permanent legislation, boosting prices to $38/cwt. Chris Galen, Senior Vice-President of Communications for the National Milk Producers Federation, discusses the political and structural problems facing the dairy industry and the need for a federal program that gives producers direction in management and marketing decisions. He also discusses the challenges faced by new USDA School Lunch rules for sweetened and flavored milk.
Oklahoma Republican Frank Lucas joins us again on Agri-Pulse Open Mic to discuss the current state of the farm bill negotiations and how the savings from reforms advanced by his committee could become part of the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations as a down payment on the nations debt, either this year or next. But Lucas, who was elected last week for a second term as House Agriculture Committee Chairman says much depends on ongoing negotiations between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner.
Congressman Tom Latham was re-elected after a tough campaign against Democrat Leonard Boswell in a newly shaped Iowa congressional district. We asked Latham, who has deep roots in agriculture, about commitments from his friend and colleague, Speaker John Boehner, regarding action on the 2012 farm bill and how the funding baseline might change if nothing happens. He also discusses tax issues as part of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations taking place between President Barack Obama and House and Senate leaders.
Without a new farm bill to authorize funding for USDA export programs, U.S. farmers and ranchers will start to lose a competitive edge to their foreign competitors. That's just one of the farm bill topics that USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse addresses in this week's Open Mic. He also talks about further cost-cutting at USDA, farm program efficiencies and expanding trade with Russia, a country the former Delaware Secretary of Agriculture will tour in early December, along with other state agricultural leaders.
With holiday baking in full swing, millions of Americans will likely be purchasing or consuming a little extra sugar this season. Jack Roney, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis for the American Sugar Alliance, explains why sugar prices have been dropping and how the "no cost" U.S. sugar policy removes some of the price volatility that historically plagued growers before its enactment. Roney talks about the sugar industry's use of Political Action Committee donations to influence Congress and describes how growers are willing to level the farm policy playing field around the globe. But citing the European Union as an example, he says it would be suicidal to eliminate all tariffs or buffers unless every other sugar-producing nation did so at the same time.
Most national polls indicate that the race for president is incredibly close with fewer than a dozen swing states still in play. We asked Dr. Joe Aistrup to discuss the importance of the rural vote on this week's Agri-Pulse Open Mic. Aistrup, who is a Political Science Professor at Kansas State University and interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, specializes in examining political races. He is also the author of two books. "Kansas Politics and Government: The Clash of Political Cultures" and "The Southern Strategy Revisited: Top-Down Republican Party Development in the South" Aistrup dissected the politics of agriculture and rural America for both the presidential campaigns and key congressional races. He also speculates on whether or not this election will end the current gridlock in Congress.