Recognized as one of the most influential people in bioenergy, James C. Collins, Jr. is senior vice president for DuPont, in charge of Industrial Biosciences, Performance Polymers and Packaging & Industrial Polymers businesses. He is leading the effort to bring advanced biofuels to market, especially through a new generation cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa. Collins will testify this week before the Senate Agriculture Committee on the Renewable Fuel Standard and its applicability to advanced biofuel development. He also comments on DuPont-Pioneer efforts to assist corn growers to get the maximum utilization of biomass by a sustainable rotational system of removing a portion of the stover for use in making cellulosic ethanol.
With international trade negotiations offering the potential for stronger ag exports, it's important to understand some of the key differences between the U.S. and other trading partners. In this week's Open Mic, John Dardis tells how the Irish view some of the trade barriers on both sides of the Atlantic. Dardis is a fifth generation farmer, who trained as a plant breeder, and currently serves as the Agricultural Attache for the Irish Embassy in Washington, D.C. Dardis sees Ireland's agricultural future in the amount of beef, dairy, whiskey and other high value exports the island nation can ship around the world while creating much needed jobs. He also offers perspective on biotechnology acceptance and how Ireland is trying to build their next generation of young farmers.
The Chair of the Senate Agriculture, Committee, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), is ready to bring the 2013 farm bill to closure. She expressed frustration with delays in the House of Representatives and stands strongly on the side of providing food assistance to those in need. Stabenow explains the politics of the bill and how the President is monitoring the legislation. Action by the House to appoint conferees is a priority as she rejects the way Republicans are attempting to pass a nutrition bill that would reduce SNAP by $40 billion over ten years.
Agricultural Research Service Administrator Edward B. Knipling guided nearly 2,000 scientists with a focus on the Agricultural Research Service as the working arm of USDA science and an organization of national responsibility. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said it best: "Dr. Knipling retires with 46 years of service to the American people through the advancement of science.'' In a prestigious career devoted to the ARS, Knipling held positions throughout the agency, serving as ARS Administrator since 2004. In this week's Open Mic, Knipling shares many of the challenges facing the agency as it remains focused on science-based solutions to some of agriculture's biggest challenges.
Mark Jackson is President of the Iowa Soybean Association and like many farmers, is uncertain about the size of this year's soybean crop. He's also frustrated by the lack of action on a farm bill and the implications of not having legislation in place to provide food security for the United States. In this week's Open Mic, he also shares how his association has been very active in reaching out to consumers so they can know more about the source of their food and better understand how farmers have been implementing more sustainable farming practices.
Sen. Mitch McConnell has been the Minority Leader of the Senate since January 3, 2007 and is the longest serving U.S. Senator in Kentucky history, but he's facing tough re-election battles heading into 2014. On this week's Open Mic, he talks about the challenges associated with passing a new farm bill and why going back to the 1949 permanent law would be "insane." In this wide-ranging interview, he also addresses a host of other ag-related issues such as immigration reform, estate taxes, the sequester, Obamacare and the "war on coal."