This week’s Open Mic Guest is Alabama Congressman Robert Aderholt, a member of the House Committee on Appropriations. In this interview, Aderholt discusses the timing of the next round of legislation to support agriculture and the economy during the COVID-19 crisis and potential impacts on the next farm bill. Aderholt says the nation’s debt is an issue when considering an infrastructure bill but believes expanded broadband service to rural areas can no longer be ignored.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin. The Illinois Democrat stands in full support of legislation intended to prop up the U.S. economy and assist farmers suffering losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Durbin, who once worked at a packing plant, shares thoughts on the need to protect human health in those workplaces and concerns about the ethanol industry. Durbin hints that the USDA may provide additional assistance for farms and ranches in the near future.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is NRCS Chief Matt Lohr. The 5th-generation Virginia farmer understands the responsibility of preserving natural resources while at the same time meeting the nation’s challenge for food, fiber and fuel. In this interview, Lohr discusses existing programs and new program innovations being implemented across thousands of conservation districts across the nation. Lohr says NRCS offices may be closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but employees are on task, assisting cooperators and implementing new conservation programs as described in the 2018 farm bill.
This week’s Open Mic Guest is Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an abrupt change of focus for AEM leadership to assist members in navigating various challenges in nearly every aspect of their business. Slater says being declared as essential is an important aspect to their plight, but doesn’t resolve the uncertainty of product demand or delivery of essential supplies to maintain production. AEM has been vocal in support of assistance for the ethanol industry and others that are integral players in rural economic stability. AEM supports investment in infrastructure and is eager to hear from candidates as to how they plan to support both manufacturing and the rural economy.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Tim Lust, CEO of the National Sorghum Producers. While the ag industry as a whole has suffered from many headwinds, Lust reports sorghum producers have fared better than others. China represents a tremendous opportunity for sorghum and has made significant purchases recently. Lust says sorghum growers look for new opportunities from global markets but also share the sufferings of the domestic ethanol market. NSP is pleased with early reports on USDA regulation of gene editing and hope for similar action from other agencies.
This week’s Open Mic guest is USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a number of challenges for the food production system in the nation. Censky speaks to the industry’s response to the crisis and the strength of the agriculture industry to respond to consumer needs. He says school nutrition is a top priority for the department and discusses the challenge to shift perishable foods into retail food channels as well as food banks across the country. He also addresses agriculture’s labor needs and cooperation between government agencies to see an adequate workforce in the nation as well as USDA efforts to assist young and beginning farmers.