This week’s Open Mic guest is Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. As a third-generation farmer, Tester and his wife are seeing firsthand the devastating impact of drought in the West. Tester supports infrastructure spending and government outlays to pull the country out of the pandemic-induced recession. In this interview, he speaks to the issues of consolidation, competition and transparency in the cattle market as well as California’s Proposition 12 and recently proposed legislation to eliminate CAFOs by 2040.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Tracy Zea, president and CEO of the Waterways Council, Inc. Formed about 20 years ago WCI’s mission is to lobby for improvements to the nation’s inland waterways system. Zea says an outdated and antiquated locks and dams infrastructure continues to support a large percentage of the nation’s GDP. While legislation authorizing the upgrade of a number of facilities has been approved by Congress, funding has been lacking to see actual work begin on these projects. Zea and WCI are hopeful President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan will include much-needed dollars to upgrade the river transportation system.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Karsten Temme, CEO of Pivot Bio. Genetic engineering of commercial crops has brought tremendous increases in productivity and sustainability. Microbial science is proving its worth in preserving plant health and providing much-needed nutrients for sustainable production. Pivot Bio offers biological solutions to plant nutrition to displace synthetic fertilizer with nitrogen from the atmosphere. In this interview, Temme outlines the science that could provide tremendous strides in productivity and sustainability.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI-The Food Industry Association. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a tremendous strain on nearly every aspect of the food industry and seemingly overnight changes in consumer shopping patterns. Sarasin suggests many of those new paradigms are here to stay. FMI’s Grocery Shopper Trends survey indicates technology will play a greater role in how consumers shop for food and some well-defined differences in shopper attitudes and motivations. Sarasin suggests the farmer’s role in sustainable food production has an even greater role in consumer food selection.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind. As Congress and the White House continue to wrangle with economic stimulus policy and a national infrastructure plan, the Hoosier member of the House Ways and Means Committee is deeply concerned with the direction, price tag and potential tax increases in pending legislation. She supports a full array of sources to supply the nation’s energy needs and is excited about sustainability projects. She is encouraged by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s ability to address ag export issues. Walorski also believes cybersecurity is a huge and growing threat to the nation and suggests action is needed against Russia’s actions on this front.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Incorporated. Few commodity groups in the nation have seen greater challenges than dairy farmers over the past several years. The COVID pandemic, higher feed costs, consolidation in the processing industry and drought are just a few of the challenges producers have endured. Yet, prices have stabilized and consumers continue to seek dairy products. Tom Gallagher says the industry is adapting to marketing concepts that reach younger consumers and sharing the dairy message of sustainability to an information thirsty consumer.