This week’s guest on Open Mic is Nathan Kauffman, vice president and Omaha branch executive with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. While the farm economy continues to struggle in a multi-year downturn, the overall balance sheet remains strong. Land values remain high and interest rates are low, which has allowed farmers options to restructure debt. Kauffman says Market Facilitation Program payments helped farm balance sheets last year, but are only a short term fix to an enduringly challenged financial outlook.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee Mike Conaway. The Texas 11th District Representative says the nation’s farmers and ranchers are enduring a long run of tight financial conditions. He says the 2018 farm bill offers the best policy Washington could afford to help producers weather difficult times and fully supports the Trump Administration’s use of CCC funds to provide financial support for farmers due to lost market access. Conaway says congress needs to approve USMCA and says it is the gold standard for future trade agreements.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is the President and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. While dairy policy improvements in the 2018 farm bill have helped the financial plight of many milk producers, Vilsack says it’s the global trade front that presents the best opportunity for improvement to the bottom line. Vilsack hopes for a positive conclusion to a trade deal with Japan and says the Chinese market holds tremendous opportunity for U.S. dairy. Vilsack highlights global paradigms that could lead to greater demand for U.S. dairy products from both health conscious consumers and for feed for growing livestock herds.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Missouri 5th district Representative Emanuel Cleaver. As a former Mayor of Kansas City and now serving his 7th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Cleaver is well versed in the rural and agriculture needs in his district. As a Democratic leader, Cleaver supports the need for the USMCA trade agreement but agrees with Speaker Pelosi that labor assurances must be met. Cleaver agrees a tough stance on China’s trade practices was long overdue, but has differences with the White House tariff approach. Cleaver shares thoughts on renewable fuels and calls for a collective approach in addressing rural broadband needs in the country.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Glen Smith, Board Chair and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration. The watchful eye of the Farm Credit Administration closely monitors the balance sheet of the Farm Credit System and its service to the nation’s farms and ranches. Iowa farmer turned FCA CEO, Smith says stable land values have provided equity farmers needed to restructure debt and maintain working capital. Smith says some of the states with the most financial concern lie in their service area of the Midwest. Farmers were able to maintain income despite lower prices last year because of larger crop production, but says that may not be the case this year. Smith says natural disasters have been extremely challenging for some operations with losses far exceeding areas covered by crop insurance and other risk management tools.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Illinois 17th District Representative Cheri Bustos. With strong family ties to agriculture, the Illinois Democrat serves as a member of both the House Agriculture and Appropriations Committees. In this interview, Bustos shares concerns about the trade war with China and its “generational effects” on farmers in her district and across the country. Bustos says the Trump EPA’s administration of the RFS is deplorable and an “abomination of how it was set up”. Bustos recently offered her “Rural Green Partnership” to the House Special Committee on the Climate Crisis. The plan includes agriculture as a valuable tool in the battle against climate change.