This week’s Open Mic guest is Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol. The renewable fuels industry struggled from a number of significant challenges leading up to this year, highlighted by reduced volume demand by the EPA’s Small Refinery Exemptions. Jennings says 2020 has brought even more financial hardship including reduced fuel demand from COVID, a crude oil price war and lost export market opportunities. While many farmers and industries have seen financial support from Washington, the nation’s ethanol producers have been left out. Jennings shares thoughts on consequences to the industry if Congress remains deaf to their needs. He also discusses renewable fuel as a major issue in the November 3rd election.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Jen Sorenson, president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic proved to be the latest challenge to the nation’s swine industry. Following a period of lost global markets due to trade conflicts, Sorenson says producers' profit hopes were crushed under the weight of lost domestic markets and reduced processing capacity because of COVID. While direct payments and other government assistance programs have helped, the Iowa hog farmer says many producers have been forced out of business and many more may be lost without additional government support. Sorenson hopes legislators will amend the CCC charter allowing compensation for euthanized and donated animals and bring reform to immigration laws. NPPC also supports aggressive trade negotiations to create additional global markets for U.S. pork.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Mark Stewart, President and CEO of Agriculture Future of America. Following the vision of the Kemper Family of Kansas City, an agriculture youth development organization was born in 1996 to help in the evolution of future ag leaders and to support their spirit of entrepreneurship. Today, Stewart says that same vision has expanded to over 200 college campuses and 150 different agriculture majors. As the group celebrates 24 years, it plans to continue working on developing human capital, addressing racial diversity and aligning academic programs with employer needs. Stewart says the organization brings people together to build bridges and tries to entice young people to find their personal mission and find pathways for feeding the world more sustainably.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Sen. Amy Klobuchar. The Minnesota Democrat may have failed in her attempt for the Oval Office but remains a staunch supporter of agriculture and rural America. In this interview, Klobuchar offers thoughts on the nation’s economy and what’s essential in any new COVID relief measure including support for farmers and small businesses as well as state and local governments. Klobuchar speaks to challenges remaining with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the biofuel industry, broadband and nutrition assistance programs.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo. A year ago, Missouri’s 4th District struggled with massive flooding and now is mired in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other rural communities in the nation, Hartzler says nearly every facet of their economy has been beset with adversity from the virus. Hartzler supports another round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program support for farmers and ranchers and has appealed to USDA officials to assist commodities that she feels weren’t equitably compensated in the first round of assistance. Hartzler supports legislation that would allow USDA to provide funds to segments of the ag industry that have yet to see financial support. Hartzler supports the Farms to Families Food Box Program and believes growth in global trade agreements is the best way to help farmers overcome the COVID crisis.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Andy LaVigne, president and CEO of the American Seed Trade Association. Many believe consumers have a new appreciation for farmers and the overall food supply chain following the COVID-19 pandemic. While the world hopes science delivers an answer to the disease, some of those same consumers push back against new seed innovation that can lead to a more secure food supply. In this interview, LaVigne discusses challenges the industry faces with new trade agreements and an influx of dollars being invested in the food and ag sector. He reports on the “mystery seed” packages and outlines how governments and consumers can help farmers achieve sustainability and food production goals.