Congressman Rosa DeLauro has strong opinions about hunger in America, farm programs, crop insurance and food safety. Her views offer insight into the challenges that lawmakers and farm groups will face whenever a new farm bill is scheduled for debate on the House floor. DeLauro represents Connecticut's Third District, which stretches from the Long Island Sound and New Haven to the Naugatuck Valley and Waterbury. She serves in the Democratic leadership as co-chair of the Steering and Policy Committee, and is the ranking member on the Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, where she oversees investments in education, health, and employment. She also serves on the subcommittee responsible for FDA and agriculture, where she oversees drug and food safety. In this week's Open Mic, DeLauro also discusses her objections to the Trans Pacific Partnership and fears that food safety will be compromised by the agreement.
Pam Johnson is President of the National Corn Growers Association and an Iowa corn grower who encourages all growers to be more politically active. Recent challenges to the Renewable Fuel Standard threaten not only the corn industry, but future biofuels under development. Johnson says NCGA is ready for a five-year farm bill to be written, but is not a fan of some of the policy options being discussed. She also discusses the potential for the 2013 corn crop and reinforces the value of corn to a growing world population.
Bob Goodlatte is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. In this week's Open Mic, the Virginia Republican talks about pending immigration bills and the potential for bipartisan support in the Senate and House of Representatives. Goodlatte wants to eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and presents his argument for dismantling the requirement that corn-based ethanol be given an unfair advantage in the marketplace. The Chairman also speculates on the likelihood of a farm bill being written, debated and passed in this year and the potential change in the number of "no" votes that occurred in the last effort to pass the farm bill.
The budgets passed by both the House and Senate are like 'night and day', but Senator Charles Grassley, believes that lawmakers must work toward a more balanced budget even as work begins again on a new farm bill. Its a difficult task, especially because Grassley says there are a lot of people in the U.S. Senate who don't understand agriculture. He also has opinions about how immigration should be modernized and what any new gun control legislation must not include. The Senator believes there are looming threats that agriculture must face including a cut in federal spending and a challenge to the Renewable Fuel Standard.
"The first essential component of social justice is adequate food for all mankind," said Norman Borlaug during his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. In 1977, he was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 2006, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, just a few in a long line of honors bestowed upon Borlaug, known as the father of the Green Revolution. In this week's Open Mic, his granddaughter, Julie Borlaug, tells about the promise she made to him on his deathbed about continuing his focus on science and technology to feed a growing, hungry world. As Associate Director for External Relations for the Borlaug Institute at Texas A & M, she talks about several projects to help farmers in developing nations and why those who buy products labeled fair trade may be hurting, rather than helping small farmers.
As hundreds gather in Washington this week to celebrate Ag Day, we can celebrate that today's farmers each feed more than 144 people. But how do we continue to increase productivity in order to feed a growing, global population that's expected to top 9 billion by 2050? Dr. Jerry Hatfield, director of USDA's National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, says 300 bu. corn and 100 bu. soybean yield goals are attainable, but it will require rethinking increased climate variability, as well as placing a new focus on genetics, the environment and soil systems management. His comments on Open Mic are particularly timely as lawmakers grapple with budget cuts in research and conservation programs cuts that could derail some of the changes he says are needed to meet future challenges with productivity and adaptation.