With 2012 designated as the International Year of Cooperatives, Chuck Conner, CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives has been busy sharing the benefits of farmer-owned cooperatives. In this weeks Open Mic, taped June 1, he also talks about the need to resolve regional differences in the 2012 farm bill writing process. Conner brings a unique perspective to this issue. For nearly 20 years, he served on the staff of Senator Richard Lugar and was the staff director of the Senate Agriculture Committee during the 1996 farm bill process. Prior to joining NCFC from 2005-2008, he was Deputy Secretary of Agriculture at USDA and helped lead development of President George W. Bush Administrations Farm Bill proposal. He also talks about Sen. Lugar's stunning defeat in the Indiana GOP primary and Gov. Romneys presidential campaign.
Six years ago, Amy Klobuchar became the first woman elected to represent the State of Minnesota in the U.S. Senate. Today, the former chief prosecutor in the states largest county joins us on Agri-Pulse Open Mic. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, she talks about the vote last week to advance the 2012 farm bill and her expectations for amendments on crop insurance and other issues. She also points to the importance of getting a farm bill passed this year in order to keep the rural economy strong and her perspective on future trade agreements.
Our guest this week on Agri-Pulse Open Mic is Arkansas Senator John Boozman, a freshman member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, who voted against passage of the 2012 Farm Bill in committee. He talks about ongoing negotiations in the U.S. Senate and his expectations for a southern farm safety net that offers more flexibility for growers of all types. The former cattle rancher also shares his concerns over food stamps, crop insurance and other aspects of the farm bill, as well as his frustrations over U.S. energy policy.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is our guest this week on Agri-Pulse Open Mic. Broadcaster Ken Root sat down with Vilsack to discuss his approach to on-farm regulatory issues and efforts to improve water quality, including the potential for ecosystem markets. He talks about the 2012 Farm Bill and differences between the House and Senate version and details the Obama Administrations views on trimming crop insurance subsidies. While the farm economy is currently booming, the former Iowa Governor describes his biggest fear for the future.
Mike Johanns is an Iowa farm boy who headed west to Nebraska to serve as governor before heading east to serve as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in the GW Bush administration before heading back to win an open U.S. Senate seat almost four years ago. He spoke about the politics of the pending farm bill and the challenges caused by geographical conflict. He also talked about the changing landscape for revered Republicans who are losing out to more conservative opponents and the surprising victory of a Nebraska Sandhills legislator who is now the Republican candidate for Nebraska's other seat in the U.S. Senate.
Johanns heads up the "Aggies for Romney" campaign and was asked if he would accept the vice presidential slot with Governor Romney on the 2012 Repubican Ticket.
Bill Northey is a fourth generation farmer from Spirit Lake, Iowa who serves as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and also as President of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Taking a break from planting, he explains NASDA's perspective on the 2012 Farm Bill and discusses future challenges ahead with conservation and water quality. He also talks about the impact that social media and other communication tools has had on lean finely textured beef, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, and new varieties of biotech seed corn.