From immigration to water quality and a host of regulatory issues, members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) deal with a broad portfolio of issues every day. Steve Troxler is the North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture and the current president of NASDA. In this week's Open Mic, Troxler is very optimistic that farmers and agribusinesses will do what's right for the environment and the consumer, but he is a little less sure of what Congress will be able to achieve at the federal level.
Will there still be adequate federal dollars available to help get more conservation practices on the ground? That's one of the big questions facing John Larson as CEO of the National Association of Conservation Districts. Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees included important reforms in the conservation title of the farm bill last year, but the future is uncertain. The Washington state native also discusses how implementing more conservation on working lands can help improve soil health and water quality, while giving growers more regulatory certainty.
U.S. Senator Mark Pryor would like to see bipartisan solutions to some of our nations most troubling budget issues, but in this week's Open Mic, he paints a fairly bleak picture. The Arkansan chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and talks about some of his priorities and his concerns about cutting direct payments to address the looming March 1 sequester. A long-time advocate for rice farmers in his state, Pryor tells why he voted against the Senate farm bill last year and how he views the Obama administration's proposals on gun control.
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".