Got dairy? Farm bill watchers are expressing optimism that a new 'deal' can be reached on dairy, but as always, the devil is in the details. Fresh off Capitol Hill Friday night - after another day of discussions about the dairy title - Agri-Pulse interviewed Jim Mulhern, the new President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. Although no formal agreement has been reached, Mulhern - who first started working on the hill in 1983 and has held numerous positions in the dairy industry - emphasizes that the conflict over dairy programs will not prevent the 2014 Farm, Food and Jobs Act from being brought to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. He expresses his desire to "call the bluff" of the Speaker of the House but realizes that political pressure on the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee won't allow that option. Mulhern also addresses "post farm bill" goals for immigration reform and fair and equitable labeling of U.S. dairy products in trade agreements with the European Union.
Should USDA start implementing the farm bill's permanent law? U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, is holding off for now, but in this week's Open Mic, he explains what could happen if Congress can't get the job done and pass a new farm bill in the near future. He also discusses the potential "unintended consequences" of including Rep. Steve King's amendment with the farm bill and whether or not you'll hear about the farm bill in President Obama's State of the Union address. In this wide-ranging interview, the former Iowa Governor also talks about SNAP funding, the beef checkoff, immigration reform, and finding a "21st Century" solution to GMO labeling.
With the need to feed an estimated nine billion people by 2050, the U.S. government is taking a more comprehensive approach to addressing food security issues. Jonathan Shrier, the acting Special Representative for Global Food Security and Deputy Coordinator of Diplomacy at the State Department, describes the 'Feed the Future' initiative, which involves ten agencies, led by the Agency for International Development. Shrier says one in five children in the world is "stunted" because of lack of food and discusses several of the tools, including biotechnology, which can be used to address world hunger. He also shares how U.S. farmers and agribusinesses can play a more active role in helping feed the world and build capacity in other countries.
Dr. John Boozman, a Republican from Arkansas, is in his first term in the U.S. Senate following five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the Agriculture Committee and is keenly aware of the needs of Arkansas farmers who grow a wide variety of crops. Boozman addresses the long process of getting the Farm, Food and Jobs bill through Congress and delves into specifics on commodity and food and nutrition titles. He also challenges his northern counterparts in their efforts to tighten the definition of "Actively Engaged In Farming". He explains the workings of Congress, or lack thereof, in a contentious environment and the challenges it brings to producing good legislation.
Paul Hammes is Vice President and General Manager for Agricultural Shipping at the Union Pacific Railroad. He joined UP ten years ago in a period of merger and transition in the rail industry. Hammes previously held various trading, asset management and transportation roles with Cargill. He has served as chair of the National Grain and Feed Association's Shipper/Receiver Committee and is a trustee on the Farm Foundation Board. He discusses the current business climate for rail carriers and the relationship of the railroad to agribusiness. He also comments on the pending Water Resources Legislation..
Who would have thought that a self-made man who started as a truck driver would become one of the biggest thorns in the side of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)? Forrest Lucas, president of Lucas Oil, launched a new organization, Protect the Harvest, (www.protecttheharvest.com), to fight HSUS and others trying to negatively impact animal agriculture. Lucas is a strong voice for free enterprise and opposes government regulation including the ethanol mandate. He is an aggressive marketer, proven by the success of Lucas Oil and an investment of $120 million to put the name of his company on the Indianapolis Colts stadium for twenty years. Listen to this week's Open Mic to learn how became successful and decided to make the defeat of HSUS his legacy.