Frank Lucas (Republican-Oklahoma) Chairs the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee and succeeded in getting a diverse farm bill through his committee in 2012 and 2013 with over a 3/4 majority. However, the toughest battle lies ahead, with floor debate expected in mid-June. Lucas talks about the major challenges of a bill that has budget restraints and forces on both sides pulling for their respective constituents. He is also watching the Senate debate "every minute I can spare" to see what that bill can offer when House members go to conference and sign a new bill into law before the current one expires on September 30.
Dr. Steve Meyer is president of Paragon Economics. He consults with the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council. As an economist, he examines the Smithfield Foods sale to a Chinese company and speculates on whether it will be given regulatory approval. He looks at the impact of such a move on grain and pork producers in the United States. Meyer also discusses the impact of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) on production facilities.
Congressman Rick Nolan is a democrat from Minnesota's 8th district. His primary industries are agriculture, forestry and mining. He holds the congressional record for the longest lapse between terms as he served in Congress (1975-1981), then left to go into business where he managed an international trade association and was owner and president of a forestry company. He returned to Congress this year, in his mid 60's, and now sits on the agriculture and transportation committees.
Nolan speaks about then and now in the change in Congress and about the prospect for passage of the House Farm Legislation. He also talks about the EPA and the challenges faced by industries in his district.
Congressman Steve King is an outspoken conservative member of the House Agriculture Committee. In this week's Open Mic, the Iowa Republican shares his observations about the farm bill that the committee wrote last week. King put through an egg amendment that may keep states from imposing standards that restrict commerce with other states. He also wants to cut the cost of SNAP and reduce other expenditures as well. King,
who is in line to be chairman when the next farm bill comes up in 2018, also discusses how committee membership has changed.
With the Senate Agriculture Committee set to start writing a new farm bill on Tuesday and the House Agriculture Committee ready to follow a day later, Congressman Collin Peterson offers his views on how a new farm bill can hopefully get passed by both chambers this year. As the ranking Democrat, he talks about the compromises he's worked out with Chairman Frank Lucas on a host of issues and with Speaker John Boehner regarding dairy policy. Peterson also expresses confidence about a compromise on nutrition spending - even though the level of cuts in the House Agriculture Committee's draft bill are significantly higher than the Senate version.
This week's Open Mic guest is Bing Von Bergen, a wheat grower from Moccasin, Montana and president of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG). Wheat growers from the northern plains to Texas are faced with unpredictable weather and that is why crop insurance is a top priority for his association. But, the organization, which just hired a new CEO, also wants a revenue guarantee program in the commodity title that focuses on farm level losses. He also addresses biotechnology in wheat as the last major grain where genetic modification may be introduced.