Dr. John Boozman, a Republican from Arkansas, is in his first term in the U.S. Senate following five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the Agriculture Committee and is keenly aware of the needs of Arkansas farmers who grow a wide variety of crops. Boozman addresses the long process of getting the Farm, Food and Jobs bill through Congress and delves into specifics on commodity and food and nutrition titles. He also challenges his northern counterparts in their efforts to tighten the definition of "Actively Engaged In Farming". He explains the workings of Congress, or lack thereof, in a contentious environment and the challenges it brings to producing good legislation.
Paul Hammes is Vice President and General Manager for Agricultural Shipping at the Union Pacific Railroad. He joined UP ten years ago in a period of merger and transition in the rail industry. Hammes previously held various trading, asset management and transportation roles with Cargill. He has served as chair of the National Grain and Feed Association's Shipper/Receiver Committee and is a trustee on the Farm Foundation Board. He discusses the current business climate for rail carriers and the relationship of the railroad to agribusiness. He also comments on the pending Water Resources Legislation..
Who would have thought that a self-made man who started as a truck driver would become one of the biggest thorns in the side of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)? Forrest Lucas, president of Lucas Oil, launched a new organization, Protect the Harvest, (www.protecttheharvest.com), to fight HSUS and others trying to negatively impact animal agriculture. Lucas is a strong voice for free enterprise and opposes government regulation including the ethanol mandate. He is an aggressive marketer, proven by the success of Lucas Oil and an investment of $120 million to put the name of his company on the Indianapolis Colts stadium for twenty years. Listen to this week's Open Mic to learn how became successful and decided to make the defeat of HSUS his legacy.
Dr. Keith Collins served in the federal government for 32 years, working with several Agriculture Secretaries as USDA's Chief Economist for the last 15 years of his career before retiring in 2008. During his tenure, federal crop insurance evolved to be the primary safety net for the majority of U.S. farmers. Collins, now a consultant for the crop insurance industry, discusses how crop insurance is an underpinning of the overall economy. He also addressed the impact of billions of dollars in crop insurance claims in 2012 and whether or not the industry can withstand similar challenges.
Congressman Steve Southerland is a Republican from Florida. He may be best known for an amendment to the 2013 House Farm Legislation that required a work component for a certain sector of recipients to continue receiving food aid. The "Southerland Amendment", upon party line passage, caused Democrat support to disintegrate and the the first defeat of farm legislation since it originated in the 1930's. Southerland talks of what he learned from the debate and the prospects for conferees, which he is one, to negotiate a merged bill that can be passed by both houses and signed by President Obama.
Congressman Mike Conaway is a Republican from a rural and agricultural district of west central Texas. He is the subcommittee chair for general farm commodities and risk management of the agriculture committee. Conaway sits just below the four principal negotiators on the conference committee for the farm, food and jobs bill that is currently being negotiated. He stated last week that he disagreed with Chairman Frank Lucas that the bill would come out of conference before Thanksgiving. "I would like for the Chairman to be right and for me to be wrong," he said on further questioning, "but I feel there are just too many areas that are unresolved to allow that." Conaway turned out to be right as many areas of the bill are still unsettled.