Twenty-five years ago, President Ronald Reagan signed the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987, which responded to the farm credit crisis and established the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation. Since that time, "Farmer Mac" has served as the primary secondary market for agricultural loans with cumulative business volume exceeding $29 billion. On this week's Open Mic, CEO Tim Buzby explains how Farmer Mac has changed over the years and discusses the similarities and differences with other government-sponsored enterprises. He also shares his views on whats ahead for the agricultural economy and the potential for higher interest rates.
In his first term Rep. Tim Huelskamp earned a reputation of bucking the political system and party leadership positions that prompted the Republican House Steering Committee to strip him of plum committee assignments in the 113th Congress, including the Agriculture and Budget Committees. But the Kansas farmer handily won re-election in the state's "Big First" District and he's proud of being a fiscal conservative - one of only nine members in the 435-member U.S. House to have earned a 100 percent rating from the conservative Club for Growth for 2011. In this week's Open Mic, we asked him about sequestration and other budget issues, the farm bill and immigration reform.
Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh does not hold back on his opinions about the inability of Congress to act on a new farm bill. Dr. David Kohl agrees and also is concerned about U.S. monetary policy and the pending change at the Federal Reserve. The seasoned duo still has great hope for agriculture and our economy. Both cite government as the greatest impediment to growth. Dr. David Kohl is a long time professor of Agricultural Economics at Virginia Tech University. He focuses on the banking industry and it's relationship with agriculture.
Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh has been teaching students for forty-two years at Kansas State University and contributed to numerous pieces of farm legislation dating back to the Nixon administration. Most notably, his work in the 1990's led to the 1996 farm bill known as "Freedom to Farm".
From his work with the Boll Weevils to the Blue Dogs, former Congressman Charlie Stenholm established a reputation for getting things done in Congress through bipartisan alliances - something that's almost unheard of in today's highly polarized political environment. In this Agri-Pulse Open Mic interview, he tells us why he believes a short-term increase in the debt limit and passage of a new federal budget are crucial to getting a farm bill passed this year. And the life-long farmer has some advice to farm organizations about how they need to change to address some of the political and agricultural challenges of the future including food, water and energy. A member of the House Committee on Agriculture throughout his 26-year House career, Stenholm served as the ranking Democrat for his last eight years until 2004. Currently, Stenholm is a Senior Policy Advisor at OFW Law.
Extension of the 2008 farm bill for another nine months creates more questions than answers for the U.S. cotton industry. Mark Lange, President and CEO of the National Cotton Council joins us on Open Mic to discuss the how he expects the farm bill debate to play out, especially in light of Brazil's successful WTO challenge to the U.S. cotton program. Lange, a former ag economics professor, also talks about why crop insurance does not work equally well for all commodities and shares thoughts on how the new ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., might influence the outcome of the next farm bill.
The "dairy cliff" has been avoided, leaving many dairy producers frustrated with the failure of Congress to adopt much needed reforms. However, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) is pleased with the additional time to rethink policy options, such as those offered last year by Reps. Bob Goodlatte and David Scott. On this week's Open Mic, Jerry Slominski, Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs for IDFA, explains his association's views on dairy policy reforms, shares concerns about declining domestic consumption of milk and the terrific opportunities for the U.S. dairy industry in expanding exports.