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.
Jeff Simmons is President of Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly and Company, and a passionate advocate for the role technology plays in sustainable, efficient production of safe, affordable meat, dairy and eggs. In his 23 years with company, he traveled to some of the harshest regions of the globe and gained experiences that have shaped his perspective on food and agriculture. In this week's Open Mic, he verbalizes his deep conviction for finding global solutions to world hunger, using an egg to illustrate part of the challenges ahead. Simmons, who grew up on a family farm in New York, also questions animal rights activists from the perspective of human welfare and animal welfare.
Tom Sleight has devoted most of his professional career to the U.S. Grains Council. Two years ago, he came back to the council and was named President and CEO in June. Sleight has served in the United States and abroad, even in the Soviet Union, as a promoter of U.S. grain exports. The council now works with the Foreign Agricultural Service and export oriented organizations to create markets for corn, barley and sorghum. Sleight talks about the potential of China to produce more grain but to also continue to import larger quantities each year. He is concerned about the river transportation system in the Upper Midwest and the opportunities of the Panama Canal having larger capacity.