Shirley Bloomfield, the CEO of NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association says rural customers want the same speed, clarity and quality of service as other Americans, but her members face several challenges delivering 21st Century technology, in part because wireless still needs a wired network. Her association is working with farm groups and others on a new Smart Rural Community Initiative to help boost education, telemedicine and economic development in rural areas. She also explains how failure to pass a farm bill impacts rural America and telecommunications firms who rely on USDA rural development programs.
Both urban and rural interests need to stick together in order for a farm bill to pass in the U.S. House of Representatives says Rep. Emanuel Cleaver in this week's Open Mic. Cleaver, whose congressional district covers both rural and urban parts of Northwest Missouri, is a former Kansas City mayor and the grandson of farmers. He is also past chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. He hopes to vote for the House farm legislation but explains why he would like to see the final bill look more like the Senate version.
Frank Lucas (Republican-Oklahoma) Chairs the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee and succeeded in getting a diverse farm bill through his committee in 2012 and 2013 with over a 3/4 majority. However, the toughest battle lies ahead, with floor debate expected in mid-June. Lucas talks about the major challenges of a bill that has budget restraints and forces on both sides pulling for their respective constituents. He is also watching the Senate debate "every minute I can spare" to see what that bill can offer when House members go to conference and sign a new bill into law before the current one expires on September 30.
Dr. Steve Meyer is president of Paragon Economics. He consults with the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council. As an economist, he examines the Smithfield Foods sale to a Chinese company and speculates on whether it will be given regulatory approval. He looks at the impact of such a move on grain and pork producers in the United States. Meyer also discusses the impact of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) on production facilities.
Congressman Rick Nolan is a democrat from Minnesota's 8th district. His primary industries are agriculture, forestry and mining. He holds the congressional record for the longest lapse between terms as he served in Congress (1975-1981), then left to go into business where he managed an international trade association and was owner and president of a forestry company. He returned to Congress this year, in his mid 60's, and now sits on the agriculture and transportation committees.
Nolan speaks about then and now in the change in Congress and about the prospect for passage of the House Farm Legislation. He also talks about the EPA and the challenges faced by industries in his district.
Congressman Steve King is an outspoken conservative member of the House Agriculture Committee. In this week's Open Mic, the Iowa Republican shares his observations about the farm bill that the committee wrote last week. King put through an egg amendment that may keep states from imposing standards that restrict commerce with other states. He also wants to cut the cost of SNAP and reduce other expenditures as well. King,
who is in line to be chairman when the next farm bill comes up in 2018, also discusses how committee membership has changed.