With USDA projecting another record year for farm exports, we interviewed Jim Sutter, the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Soybean Export Council, for Agri-Pulse Open Mic. Sutter comes from a strong background in soybean merchandising and is eager to sell more U.S. soybeans into the world market even as buyers are concerned about tight supplies and high prices. He explains the relationship between the Export Council, the United Soybean Board, the American Soybean Association and the USDA Foreign Ag Service. Sutter believes there is great opportunity to expand U.S. soybean exports and export two-thirds of the crop by 2020, but some countries continue to have trade barriers against our products, and there are increasing concerns about sustainability standards in the EU.
Dr. Clayton Yeutter has long-served as a public servant in the federal government and held several different leadership positions within the private sector, where he is currently a Senior Advisor at Hogan Lovells LLP in Washington D.C. In 1978, he became president of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. In July 1985 President Reagan appointed Yeutter as U.S. Trade Representative. On February 16, 1989, Yeutter was sworn in as the Secretary of Agriculture, where he helped develop the 1990 farm bill. In this weeks Open Mic, the Nebraska native talks about key issues facing farmers and ranchers today and how he believes the Romney administration would offer solutions on issues like trade, taxes and regulatory relief.
With incredible heat and drought conditions across much of the U.S., some have compared this time period to previous record-breaking droughts dating back to the 1930's Dust Bowl years. Yet with new technologies and conservation techniques, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Ann Mills explains how farmers and ranchers are preserving precious resources despite the weather-related challenges and how new conservation innovation grants might lead to even better practices. Mills, who previously directed the Senate office of Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and worked on bio-fuels issues for then-Congressman Richard Durbin, talks about how a new farm bill might shape future conservation programs and how environmental markets could emerge as a new revenue stream for producers.
Rick Tolman, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Corn Growers for the last 12 years, is our guest on Agri-Pulse Open Mic. As a member of the "Farm Bill Now" coalition, Tolman talks about his group's disapointment that members of Congress can't get the job done. He also talks about how ethanol has allowed agriculture to be a bright light in the national economy and explains how, from a technical standpoint, NCGA needs to be supportive of those who want to petition the EPA for a waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard. We also asked him to grade the Obama Administration's approach to agriculture.
This week's guest on Agri-Pulse Open Mic is Jon Scholl, President of the American Farmland Trust, the nation's leading farmland conservation organization. Previously, he served as Counselor to the Administrator for Agricultural Policy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and talks about his experiences connecting farmers to consumers and the importance of being good stewards of the land, especially in critical watersheds like the Cheseapeake Bay. Scholl gives his perspective on the conservation title in the 2012 farm bill and potential cuts in conservation programs to pay for livestock disaster aid. Although the rate of farmland conversion to development has slowed, Scholl says more focus should be given to protecing what he calls "America's greatest natural resource."
Joe Jobe, the Chief Executive Officer for the National Biodiesel Board joins us on Agri-Pulse Open Mic to discuss the current state of his industry and the important roles that the biodiesel tax credit and the Renewable Fuels Standard play in supporting biodiesel production in the U.S. Jobe, who grew up on a farm in central Missouri, also explains how biodiesel, which is the only advanced biofuel in commercial production, is very diverse in terms of technology and feedstock sources and represents an important path forward for anyone interested in energy independence.