From his work with the Boll Weevils to the Blue Dogs, former Congressman Charlie Stenholm established a reputation for getting things done in Congress through bipartisan alliances - something that's almost unheard of in today's highly polarized political environment. In this Agri-Pulse Open Mic interview, he tells us why he believes a short-term increase in the debt limit and passage of a new federal budget are crucial to getting a farm bill passed this year. And the life-long farmer has some advice to farm organizations about how they need to change to address some of the political and agricultural challenges of the future including food, water and energy. A member of the House Committee on Agriculture throughout his 26-year House career, Stenholm served as the ranking Democrat for his last eight years until 2004. Currently, Stenholm is a Senior Policy Advisor at OFW Law.
Extension of the 2008 farm bill for another nine months creates more questions than answers for the U.S. cotton industry. Mark Lange, President and CEO of the National Cotton Council joins us on Open Mic to discuss the how he expects the farm bill debate to play out, especially in light of Brazil's successful WTO challenge to the U.S. cotton program. Lange, a former ag economics professor, also talks about why crop insurance does not work equally well for all commodities and shares thoughts on how the new ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., might influence the outcome of the next farm bill.
The "dairy cliff" has been avoided, leaving many dairy producers frustrated with the failure of Congress to adopt much needed reforms. However, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) is pleased with the additional time to rethink policy options, such as those offered last year by Reps. Bob Goodlatte and David Scott. On this week's Open Mic, Jerry Slominski, Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs for IDFA, explains his association's views on dairy policy reforms, shares concerns about declining domestic consumption of milk and the terrific opportunities for the U.S. dairy industry in expanding exports.
Dr. Jill Long Thompson was named Chair and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration in November, after serving on the FCA Board since March. Ms. Long Thompson has many years of leadership experience, representing northeast Indiana as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives and as Chair of the Rural Caucus.
From 1995 to 2001, she served as Under Secretary for Rural Development in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she oversaw an annual budget of $10 billion and a staff of 7,000 employees. In this week's Open Mic, she discusses the oversight requirements of the FCA and the financial health of the Farm Credit System and agriculture, in general. With skyrocketing farmland prices, she describes the differences between the current agricultural economy and the last extended era of agriculultural prosperity in the 1970's.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has challenged rural Americans to rethink their relevance in the U.S. political process in light of the failure of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a new farm bill. The former Iowa Governor and presidential candidate insists that President Obama clearly wants a new farm bill, but suggests that House leadership needs a little push to get the job done before year-end, when permanent law could kick in for dairy price supports and before the federal funding baseline shrinks further as we head into 2013.
Rep. Marcia Fudge, who represents the 11th District of Ohio, talks about her commitment to ending childhood obesity, stamping out hunger, and protecting the SNAP program on Open Mic. She also addresses efforts to grow more local food in her district surrounding Cleveland, one of the top five cities in the U.S. for the most urban farm acres. On the Agriculture Committee, she is the Ranking Member of the Department Operations, Oversight and Credit Sub-committee of the Agriculture Committee and also sits on the Committee on Education and the Workforce. In the 113th Congress, she will lead the Congressional Black Caucus, setting the political agenda for more than 40 black members of the U.S. House of Representatives.