This week’s Open Mic guest is Bryan Humphreys, CEO of the National Pork Producers Council. After a two-year delay thanks to the COVID pandemic, hog farmers from across the nation were back in Washington last week on Capitol Hill, meeting with lawmakers on issues facing the pork industry. Humphreys says producers targeted priority issues including herd health and safety, labor woes and a desperate need to forge new trade alliances to build global demand for U.S. pork. Humphreys discusses the group’s new strategic plan and highlights the swine industry’s ongoing efforts to improve production efficiency and sustainability. Humphreys also highlights the group’s challenge to California’s Proposition 12 laws in the U.S. Supreme Court and how pending rules from the SEC could affect hog farmers.
This week’s Open Mic guest is U.S. Representative David Valadao. As a life-long resident of California’s 21st District, Valadao understands the importance of agriculture to his state and the nation. He shares concern over the mounting challenges drought is posing to farmers and consumers alike. He says state water regulations are a burden for farmers and wants to see D.C. do more to help his state and other Western states suffering from the state’s historic drought conditions. He is pleased shipping reform legislation is gaining traction on Capitol Hill, saying the situation is cutting into agriculture exports in the short term and threatening to reduce global market share in some commodities. Valadao is critical of President Joe Biden’s energy policy and says less regulation would bring greater production for the nation.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. Conner suggests some input challenges may be easing prior to the bulk of the 2022 planting season. He thinks partisan politics on Capitol Hill have Congress stalled legislative action on key ag issues but still believes legislators will come through with a new farm bill next year. Conner says it’s frustrating to see vacancies in key ag negotiating positions at both USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative. While many analysts expect a “flat” budget for the new farm bill, Conner believes agriculture is justified in seeking additional funds for conservation practices.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa. The two-term representative is a 5th generation Iowan with an affinity for agriculture and rural subjects. Axne says supply chain issues are an issue for farmers approaching planting season with some crop decisions based more on supply availability than market fundamentals. She’s calling on the Biden administration to take steps to reduce tariffs on imported fertilizer and increase production and use of domestic energy supplies. Axne supports efforts to address cattle price discovery and says her first priority is her own constituents. She has lobbied the Biden EPA on both renewable fuel use as well as the effort to define the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act on the nation’s land and tributaries.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Alisha Schwertner, Chairwoman of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. The next generation of producers faces the growing pains of assuming or building an operation on thin margins while navigating many other challenges. Schwertner is a wife and mother of three, works in the ag industry and is an integral part of her family farming operation. The Texan believes there are opportunities for young farmers and ranchers to influence others on the positives of today’s agriculture and build a bridge of trust about how and where their food comes from, the work that’s being done to protect and nurture the environment, and efforts to feed the hungry through Harvest for All.
This week’s Open Mic guest is USDA Undersecretary Robert Bonnie. As the agriculture department lead for farm production and conservation, Bonnie will play a significant role in administering any new climate or conservation programs offered by U.S. legislators. Proposed pieces of legislation would offer new funds and opportunities for farmers and ranchers nationwide, but have yet to be approved. Bonnie says the USDA will play a significant role in carbon markets meanwhile working to stimulate research toward carbon smart practices. Bonnie responds to the role of land in the Conservation Reserve Program and shares thoughts on acreage goals for the program.