This week’s Open Mic guest is Charles Baron, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Farmers Business Network. What began as a small group of farmers sharing seed performance information has become an international network of thousands of farmers and millions of acres. FBN has expanded its original model of data sharing to include product packaging, a national network of warehouses, farmer financing and access to carbon-sequestering farming practices. In this interview, Baron discusses the network’s growth and opportunities for expansion in North America and around the world.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo, who has been instrumental in writing and approving two farm bills as well as countless other pieces of legislation important to agriculture and rural America. Now wrapping up her tenure in Congress, the Missouri Republican looks back on accomplishments while serving on the House Agriculture and Armed Services Committees and looks ahead to challenges the 118th Congress will face in writing new farm policy. Hartzler believes there’s a better-than-average chance a new farm bill will be approved next year but sees nutrition programs and climate policy as contentious issues.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Dan Halstrom, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Despite logistical challenges from a strained national infrastructure, high prices and a strong U.S. dollar, sales of red meat to global customers are running at or near a record pace for 2022. While there’s no shortage of global meat production, Halstrom says expected growth in global consumer demand should absorb additional meat supplies. Mexico has become a valuable market for U.S. pork, and Halstrom says they’re keeping a close eye on the threat of a trade spat over GMO corn imports.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Doug Winter, chairman of the U.S. Soybean Export Council. Despite increased competition and global economic challenges, more than half the U.S. soybean production is destined for export customers. Last week Winter and the soybean industry celebrated a 40-year anniversary of opening the Chinese market. Now, U.S. growers are in search of other opportunities for their beans, oil and meal. In this interview, Winter discusses the growing importance of sustainable production to maintaining markets and how the quality of U.S. soy is helping to overcome less expensive South American supplies.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Andrew Bate, Founder of SwarmFarm Robotics. The Queensland farmer wasn’t satisfied with the results of more land and larger machines and made the decision to bring autonomy and robotics to the family’s Australian farm. The result was the birth of SwarmFarm Robotics. Bate believes the new technology can change the principles of modern farming adding to both productivity and sustainability. Bate says many common farm practices can easily be adapted to robotics while additional research will lend itself to even greater roles for machines tending fields around the world.
This week’s guest is Kornelis “Kees” Huizinga, a member of the Global Farmer Network and farmer in central Ukraine. Since moving to Ukraine two decades ago, Kees Huizinga have seen exponential increases in planted area and production per hectare making them a major player in global markets. But Russia’s invasion of the country has brought major hardship on Ukraine farmers in the loss of crops, livestock and infrastructure. Many Ukraine farmers have been lost not just in battles but while tending their fields and caring for livestock. Kees says farmers today identify with their grandfathers who fought for freedom during World War II. And he emphasizes the need to continue supporting Ukraine’s military.