Our guest this week is Jo Ann Emerson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. After a failed attempt to bring legislative change in carbon emissions through the US Congress in 2009, President Obama is now using the regulatory arm of the EPA to bring about a major reduction in carbon emission from fossil fueled power plants. The move brings no guarantee that other counties around the globe will follow the lead of the United States. Coal-fired power plants provide about 40 percent of the nation's electricity. Opponents of the administration's plan see the move as another attack on coal that ultimately will raise electricity rates, eliminate jobs, and depress the nation's economic recovery.It's estimated that if the 30 percent reduction goal is achieved by 2030, global carbon emissions would be reduced by less than 2 percent. Ms. Emerson says the NRECA is concerned about the environment and points out that they've voluntarily cut carbon emissions in half over the past decade without additional government regulations.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Chris Novak, CEO of the National Pork Board, which provides the producer leadership for the Pork Checkoff. Novak discusses the challenges and opportunities U.S. pork producers have experienced this year, including the loss of more than 8 million piglets from the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV). Even though some pork supply will be made up through the marketing of heavier weight hogs, the dramatic losses – couple with strong domestic and global demand – are resulting in substantially higher prices for producers and consumers. Novak also discusses key demand factors and industry consolidation.
Senator Mike Johanns is well seasoned in international agricultural trade and U.S. farm policy. He served as governor of Nebraska and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture before he was elected to the U.S. Senate. As the 2014 farm legislation goes into effect, he comments on his view of new and existing programs. He also talks about expanding agricultural trade and the factors that limit the ability of negotiators to strike advantageous deals with Asian and European nations.
Congress has finally passed the second authorizing bill to improve inland waterways and ports and streamline the approval process by the Corps of Engineers.
Congressman Rodney Davis from Illinois was a co-sponsor of the bill and a member of the House-Senate conference committee. Davis says WRRDA is primarily a jobs bill and predicts it will shorten the approval process for new projects from fifteen to three years. However, it remains an authorizing bill that does not yet have appropriations to construct or repair any waterway or port.
Laura Batcha is CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association which is meeting in Washington, D.C. this week.
Organic appears to be going mainstream. USDA certification of organic production has allowed the word "Organic" to become one of the three top trademark words for foods. Wal-mart is planning to expand sales of organic products in its stores in the United States.
Batcha speaks of the challenges of growth while maintaining standards and developing an organic "checkoff" that will do as much, or more, than other checkoff programs for commodities.
In this wide ranging interview, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., shares his thoughts about why it was so difficult to pass a new farm bill and his perspective on issues like the definition of “actively engaged” as USDA works on implementation. The Oklahoma Republican is also concerned about pending rules and regulations regarding the EPA’s proposed rule on the “waters of the U.S.” and how it impacts the ability of farmers and ranchers to make a living off the land.