Moving commodities like corn, soybeans and DDGs from key growing regions of the Midwest to major Asian customers is a very big task, but our guest on this week's Open Mic tells how its done and describes some of the associated challenges. Chris Schaffer, who serves as Ag Processing Inc.'s senior director of exports, talks about his cooperative's efforts to be the fastest, most efficient exporter in the Pacific Northwest, moving product through its new port terminal elevator at the Port of Grays Harbor (PGH), Schaffer, who first joined AGP in 1994, spent a brief stint at the U.S. Grain Council (USGC) as the manager of operations for Asian markets from 1999 to 2001. During this time, Schaffer established relationships with Asian customers and focused on educating off-shore customers about GMOs and biotechnology. In 2001, he brought his knowledge of export markets back to AGP where he continues to focus on expanding market opportunities for their farmer members.
Tom Sleight has devoted most of his professional career to the U.S. Grains Council. Two years ago, he came back to the council and was named President and CEO in June. Sleight has served in the United States and abroad, even in the Soviet Union, as a promoter of U.S. grain exports. The council now works with the Foreign Agricultural Service and export oriented organizations to create markets for corn, barley and sorghum. Sleight talks about the potential of China to produce more grain but to also continue to import larger quantities each year. He is concerned about the river transportation system in the Upper Midwest and the opportunities of the Panama Canal having larger capacity.
North Dakota Congressman Rick Berg joins us on this week's Open Mic to discuss his frustration over the stalled 2012 farm bill and his eleventh hour efforts to try to whip votes before the House or Representatives headed home to campaign. Failure to pass the bill has become a political hot button for the North Dakota Republican, who serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and is now running for Senate in a hotly contested race against Heidi Heitkamp. He also talks about his early years working on farms and the importance of letting 4-H and FFA kids continue to do farm labor. In a state that has record low unemployment and healthy state coffers, the Agriculural Economics graduate from NDSU also talks about his concerns that overregulation could stifle small businesses and future economic growth.
This week's Open Mic guest is Paul Schickler, President of DuPont Pioneer, a role he's held since 2007. He talks about the ongoing challenges with getting new seed products registered around the globe, the benefits of competition in the seed industry, as well as the firms ongoing legal battles with Monsanto. The Iowa-based company is breeding more stress tolerance into crops and reports on how those plants performed during a year of record drought. Schickler also talks about future technology that will improve consumer products and profitability for corn and soybean farmers.
Dr. Clayton Yeutter has long-served as a public servant in the federal government and held several different leadership positions within the private sector, where he is currently a Senior Advisor at Hogan Lovells LLP in Washington D.C. In 1978, he became president of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. In July 1985 President Reagan appointed Yeutter as U.S. Trade Representative. On February 16, 1989, Yeutter was sworn in as the Secretary of Agriculture, where he helped develop the 1990 farm bill. In this weeks Open Mic, the Nebraska native talks about key issues facing farmers and ranchers today and how he believes the Romney administration would offer solutions on issues like trade, taxes and regulatory relief.
With USDA projecting another record year for farm exports, we interviewed Jim Sutter, the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Soybean Export Council, for Agri-Pulse Open Mic. Sutter comes from a strong background in soybean merchandising and is eager to sell more U.S. soybeans into the world market even as buyers are concerned about tight supplies and high prices. He explains the relationship between the Export Council, the United Soybean Board, the American Soybean Association and the USDA Foreign Ag Service. Sutter believes there is great opportunity to expand U.S. soybean exports and export two-thirds of the crop by 2020, but some countries continue to have trade barriers against our products, and there are increasing concerns about sustainability standards in the EU.