Shining Light on Farm & Food Policy for 20 Years. Sunday, June 23, 2024

Agri-Pulse Open Mic Interview

In depth interviews with leaders in ag policy
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Senator Pat Roberts, R-KS

As the U.S. Senate prepares to approve a new farm bill this week, supporters and critics are still weighing in on key provisions in the 949-page package. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, understands the difficult dynamics involved with gaining approval of complex food and farm legislation, having served as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in 1996 when "Freedom to Farm" was adopted and as ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee when deliberations first started on the present bill in 2011. Even though he is pleased with changes made to enhance crop insurance, Roberts explains why he continues to have long-standing concerns about the commodity title and is likely to vote against the Agricultural Act of 2014 this week.

Senator Pat Roberts

Harry Stine, Stine Seed

As world leaders look for new ways to feed over nine billion people by 2050, they will need to draw on the expertise of Harry Stine, a legendary plant breeder and developer of high yielding soybeans and hybrid corn. Stine Seed was started by his father but the Iowa company focused primarily on seed cleaning until 1965 when Harry found some unusual soybean plants in a field and became interested in soybean breeding. He went on to found Stine Seed Farms by recognizing additional profit opportunities by breeding and developing higher yield lines. In 1973, he and business partners added hybrid corn to their breeding and commercialization. Stine speaks out about the current condition of agriculture and the prospects for increasing yields to meet future demand. He states his views on how technical advances in agriculture intertwine with the philosophical needs of society.

Harry Stine

Jim Mulhern, President National Milk Producers Federation

Got dairy? Farm bill watchers are expressing optimism that a new 'deal' can be reached on dairy, but as always, the devil is in the details. Fresh off Capitol Hill Friday night - after another day of discussions about the dairy title - Agri-Pulse interviewed Jim Mulhern, the new President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. Although no formal agreement has been reached, Mulhern - who first started working on the hill in 1983 and has held numerous positions in the dairy industry - emphasizes that the conflict over dairy programs will not prevent the 2014 Farm, Food and Jobs Act from being brought to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. He expresses his desire to "call the bluff" of the Speaker of the House but realizes that political pressure on the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee won't allow that option. Mulhern also addresses "post farm bill" goals for immigration reform and fair and equitable labeling of U.S. dairy products in trade agreements with the European Union.

Jim Mulhern

USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack

Should USDA start implementing the farm bill's permanent law? U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, is holding off for now, but in this week's Open Mic, he explains what could happen if Congress can't get the job done and pass a new farm bill in the near future. He also discusses the potential "unintended consequences" of including Rep. Steve King's amendment with the farm bill and whether or not you'll hear about the farm bill in President Obama's State of the Union address. In this wide-ranging interview, the former Iowa Governor also talks about SNAP funding, the beef checkoff, immigration reform, and finding a "21st Century" solution to GMO labeling.

Tom Vilsack

Jonathan Schrier

With the need to feed an estimated nine billion people by 2050, the U.S. government is taking a more comprehensive approach to addressing food security issues. Jonathan Shrier, the acting Special Representative for Global Food Security and Deputy Coordinator of Diplomacy at the State Department, describes the 'Feed the Future' initiative, which involves ten agencies, led by the Agency for International Development. Shrier says one in five children in the world is "stunted" because of lack of food and discusses several of the tools, including biotechnology, which can be used to address world hunger. He also shares how U.S. farmers and agribusinesses can play a more active role in helping feed the world and build capacity in other countries.

Jonathan Schrier

Senator John Boozman

Dr. John Boozman, a Republican from Arkansas, is in his first term in the U.S. Senate following five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the Agriculture Committee and is keenly aware of the needs of Arkansas farmers who grow a wide variety of crops. Boozman addresses the long process of getting the Farm, Food and Jobs bill through Congress and delves into specifics on commodity and food and nutrition titles. He also challenges his northern counterparts in their efforts to tighten the definition of "Actively Engaged In Farming". He explains the workings of Congress, or lack thereof, in a contentious environment and the challenges it brings to producing good legislation.

Dr. John Boozman