Most national polls indicate that the race for president is incredibly close with fewer than a dozen swing states still in play. We asked Dr. Joe Aistrup to discuss the importance of the rural vote on this week's Agri-Pulse Open Mic. Aistrup, who is a Political Science Professor at Kansas State University and interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, specializes in examining political races. He is also the author of two books. "Kansas Politics and Government: The Clash of Political Cultures" and "The Southern Strategy Revisited: Top-Down Republican Party Development in the South" Aistrup dissected the politics of agriculture and rural America for both the presidential campaigns and key congressional races. He also speculates on whether or not this election will end the current gridlock in Congress.
Jeff Simmons is President of Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly and Company, and a passionate advocate for the role technology plays in sustainable, efficient production of safe, affordable meat, dairy and eggs. In his 23 years with company, he traveled to some of the harshest regions of the globe and gained experiences that have shaped his perspective on food and agriculture. In this week's Open Mic, he verbalizes his deep conviction for finding global solutions to world hunger, using an egg to illustrate part of the challenges ahead. Simmons, who grew up on a family farm in New York, also questions animal rights activists from the perspective of human welfare and animal welfare.
Tom Sleight has devoted most of his professional career to the U.S. Grains Council. Two years ago, he came back to the council and was named President and CEO in June. Sleight has served in the United States and abroad, even in the Soviet Union, as a promoter of U.S. grain exports. The council now works with the Foreign Agricultural Service and export oriented organizations to create markets for corn, barley and sorghum. Sleight talks about the potential of China to produce more grain but to also continue to import larger quantities each year. He is concerned about the river transportation system in the Upper Midwest and the opportunities of the Panama Canal having larger capacity.
This week's Open Mic guest is Dan Glickman, former Kansas Congressman and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for six years of the Clinton Administration. Glickman praised the bi-partisan efforts of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees but is distraught at the opposition to the bill by conservative House Republicans. He also comments about food and nutrition as well as shrinking the federal budget and cutting the size of the USDA.
Moving commodities like corn, soybeans and DDGs from key growing regions of the Midwest to major Asian customers is a very big task, but our guest on this week's Open Mic tells how its done and describes some of the associated challenges. Chris Schaffer, who serves as Ag Processing Inc.'s senior director of exports, talks about his cooperative's efforts to be the fastest, most efficient exporter in the Pacific Northwest, moving product through its new port terminal elevator at the Port of Grays Harbor (PGH), Schaffer, who first joined AGP in 1994, spent a brief stint at the U.S. Grain Council (USGC) as the manager of operations for Asian markets from 1999 to 2001. During this time, Schaffer established relationships with Asian customers and focused on educating off-shore customers about GMOs and biotechnology. In 2001, he brought his knowledge of export markets back to AGP where he continues to focus on expanding market opportunities for their farmer members.
North Dakota Congressman Rick Berg joins us on this week's Open Mic to discuss his frustration over the stalled 2012 farm bill and his eleventh hour efforts to try to whip votes before the House or Representatives headed home to campaign. Failure to pass the bill has become a political hot button for the North Dakota Republican, who serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and is now running for Senate in a hotly contested race against Heidi Heitkamp. He also talks about his early years working on farms and the importance of letting 4-H and FFA kids continue to do farm labor. In a state that has record low unemployment and healthy state coffers, the Agriculural Economics graduate from NDSU also talks about his concerns that overregulation could stifle small businesses and future economic growth.