This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill. As a member of the House Committee on Agriculture and chairwoman of the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee, Bustos is encouraged by President Joe Biden’s commitment to agriculture, renewable fuels, climate and rural issues. The Illinois Democrat says the 117th Congress has work to do to win the support of rural voters but believes members of the Biden cabinet, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, can help to generate momentum. Bustos is hopeful diplomacy can yield better trade relations with China, Europe and Cuba and is hopeful for new opportunities with the U.K. and other developing nations of the world. Bustos says climate will be an underlying theme in nearly all policies approved in Washington this year.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Barron Segar, president and CEO of the World Food Program USA. In a week where the nation celebrates the productivity of the nation’s farms and ranches, the focus of this interview is the daunting challenge of the millions of men, women and children that are malnourished and regions where famine is a looming threat. The United Nations World Food Programme was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to feed the hungry. While donations, government support and corporate partnerships have grown- human conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change continue to challenge millions each day.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Dave Puglia, president and CEO of Western Growers. Few industries have been challenged more than produce growers and shippers during the COVID pandemic. In addition to “senseless regulation,” challenges from reduced water supplies and a lack of adequate labor, Puglia says some growers are looking outside the U.S. for opportunities to raise crops. Puglia says he’s optimistic the Biden administration and the 117th Congress will finally address a shortage of available workers and hopes federal and state officials can come to terms with water regulations that balance the needs of agriculture, the environment and metropolitan areas.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rob Larew, President of the National Farmers Union. Along with other farm groups in this pandemic season, the NFU held its 119th annual meeting virtually with an impressive display of political leaders discussing issues facing the industry in the year ahead. Larew says there was a tone of optimism in the membership ranks approaching the new season. NFU members are anxious to see continued progress in moving past COVID-19 and support new stimulus measures for the industry including minority farmers. NFU is “cautiously optimistic” on the Biden agenda including trade and renewable fuel policy and is hopeful the 117th Congress will address the ag labor deficit as well as bring science based, voluntary climate policy to the nation’s farm and ranch community.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Bill Even, CEO of the National Pork Board. Last year proved challenging for the nation’s swine producers and the pork industry despite a record-setting pace for global pork sales. While the new year offers challenges from higher feed costs, Even suggests the packing industry is processing animals at near capacity and demand for pork remains robust from both domestic and global markets. A continuing shift of consumers purchasing food online has brought new avenues in product promotion and associations in the food industry to reach consumers. Even says net-zero emissions for producing swine is attainable building on a well-documented path of sustainable production practices.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Steve Censky, CEO of the American Soybean Association. After serving as USDA Deputy Secretary in the Trump administration, Censky is back in St. Louis serving the nation’s soybean farmers. Censky is encouraged with the nomination of Tom Vilsack to return as Ag Secretary and is confident with other names that will assume leadership roles at USDA and the Biden cabinet. Sustainability has long since been a focus of ASA and Censky says soybean farmers are encouraged about the opportunity to participate in the nation’s climate debate. Censky says ASA is ready to work with the Biden team on global trade opportunities and the nation’s energy policy and renewable fuels.