Shining Light on Farm & Food Policy for 20 Years. Saturday, April 20, 2024

Agri-Pulse Open Mic Interview

In depth interviews with leaders in ag policy
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Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Duration: 21:15

This week’s Open Mic guest is Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. While legislators have agreed on a new short-term spending plan to avoid a shutdown, final work on the nation’s purse strings for FY24 remains in the balance. Hoeven believes there’s still time to approve a new farm bill this year, but says there needs to be more “farm in the farm bill,” saying the farm safety net should share in spending increases being proposed for nutrition. Hoeven believes conservation funds approved in the Inflation Reduction Act should be used to upgrade the farm safety net and is cautious of using CCC funds to support reference prices.


Geoff Cooper, Renewable Fuels Association

Duration: 25:08

This week’s Open Mic guest is Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. The Iowa caucuses once again provide the opportunity to press the merits of the renewable fuels industry on those hopeful to gain the White House in November. Cooper believes his industry isn’t seeing a balanced regulatory approach from the Biden administration. On the regulatory front, RFA is watching for amendments to modeling that will determine Inflation Reduction Act tax credit eligibility and staunchly disagrees with proposed EPA tailpipe emission standards. Cooper says sustainable aviation fuel has the potential to revolutionize the renewable fuels industry, but not without resolving pipeline issues in several states.


Kam Quarles, National Potato Council CEO

Duration: 24:11

This week’s Open Mic guest is Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council. The potato industry is worth billions to the nation’s economy but is facing strong headwinds from regulatory issues, farm policy and global trade access. The group’s annual Potato Expo is expected to see record attendance this week in Austin, Texas including a presentation by USTR Chief Ag Negotiator Doug McKalip. Quarles says the industry is caught up in debate over the potato’s place in nutritional guidelines for adults and children.


Steve Censky, ASA

Duration: 25:11

This week’s Open Mic guest is Steve Censky, CEO of the American Soybean Association. ASA was among the chorus of agriculture groups pleased to see an extension of the 2018 farm bill as time ran out to produce a new bill in 2023, and Censky hopes congressional leaders can make progress early in 2024 on new policy. He says soybean growers want higher reference prices and a voluntary update for base acres in a new bill. Censky has worries about the EPA’s implementation of Endangered Species Act regulations on pesticides and is very encouraged about the benefits of renewable fuels for the soybean industry.  


Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Feeding America

Duration: 22:17

This week’s Open Mic guest is Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America. The story of hunger and food insecurity continues to grow in the U.S. and around the world. Feeding America is a national food bank serving millions of hungry Americans. The number of food-insecure adults and children swelled during the COVID-19 pandemic, but recent data from the USDA suggests millions more don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Babineaux-Fontenot supports change in nutrition programs to better assist individuals in enjoying nutrient-dense foods and getting back on their feet.


Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.

Duration: 25:03

This week’s Open Mic guest is Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. The Mississippi Republican stands firm on protecting farmers in her Delta state. She recognizes the financial challenges of writing a new farm bill and believes funding in the Inflation Reduction Act would be better served by bolstering the overall safety net for farmers than existing conservation programs. Hyde-Smith discounts the idea of an Adjusted Gross Income means test for farmers in the crop insurance program andjoins a long list of agriculture groups and other legislators who disagree with the USDA’s administration of ERP funds. Hyde-Smith says livestock farmers need relief from losses caused by predatory animals.