This week’s guest on Open Mic is NRCS Chief Matt Lohr. The 5th-generation Virginia farmer understands the responsibility of preserving natural resources while at the same time meeting the nation’s challenge for food, fiber and fuel. In this interview, Lohr discusses existing programs and new program innovations being implemented across thousands of conservation districts across the nation. Lohr says NRCS offices may be closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but employees are on task, assisting cooperators and implementing new conservation programs as described in the 2018 farm bill.
This week’s Open Mic Guest is Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an abrupt change of focus for AEM leadership to assist members in navigating various challenges in nearly every aspect of their business. Slater says being declared as essential is an important aspect to their plight, but doesn’t resolve the uncertainty of product demand or delivery of essential supplies to maintain production. AEM has been vocal in support of assistance for the ethanol industry and others that are integral players in rural economic stability. AEM supports investment in infrastructure and is eager to hear from candidates as to how they plan to support both manufacturing and the rural economy.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Tim Lust, CEO of the National Sorghum Producers. While the ag industry as a whole has suffered from many headwinds, Lust reports sorghum producers have fared better than others. China represents a tremendous opportunity for sorghum and has made significant purchases recently. Lust says sorghum growers look for new opportunities from global markets but also share the sufferings of the domestic ethanol market. NSP is pleased with early reports on USDA regulation of gene editing and hope for similar action from other agencies.
This week’s Open Mic guest is USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a number of challenges for the food production system in the nation. Censky speaks to the industry’s response to the crisis and the strength of the agriculture industry to respond to consumer needs. He says school nutrition is a top priority for the department and discusses the challenge to shift perishable foods into retail food channels as well as food banks across the country. He also addresses agriculture’s labor needs and cooperation between government agencies to see an adequate workforce in the nation as well as USDA efforts to assist young and beginning farmers.
Our guest for this week’s Open Mic is Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council. While the poultry industry faces similar challenges to others in the agriculture industry during the COVID-19 emergency here at home, there have been positive developments in export channels for U.S. products. As a result of China’s challenges with African Swine Fever and recent negotiations to open their borders, Sumner says U.S. poultry is filling a void for Chinese consumers. Sumner says USAPEEC is grateful for the effort of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to see agriculture included in trade negotiations with the European Union and holds hope for new export opportunities resulting from trade talks with the United Kingdom.
This week’s Open Mic guest is U.S. Congresswoman Angie Craig. The Minnesota 2nd District Representative serves a diverse constituent base including thousands of family farms. Craig shares her frustration with mixed messages coming from the Oval Office and the USDA on the prospect of a third round of Market Facilitation Program payments in 2020. Craig believes the Trump administration is waffling on its support of renewable fuels evidenced by its consideration of an appeal to the 10th Circuit Court’s ruling on the EPA’s granting of small refinery exemptions. Craig hopes for an infrastructure bill and doesn’t agree with the administration’s proposed changes to government nutrition programs.