This week’s Open Mic guest is Rob Larew, President of the National Farmers Union. Along with other farm groups in this pandemic season, the NFU held its 119th annual meeting virtually with an impressive display of political leaders discussing issues facing the industry in the year ahead. Larew says there was a tone of optimism in the membership ranks approaching the new season. NFU members are anxious to see continued progress in moving past COVID-19 and support new stimulus measures for the industry including minority farmers. NFU is “cautiously optimistic” on the Biden agenda including trade and renewable fuel policy and is hopeful the 117th Congress will address the ag labor deficit as well as bring science based, voluntary climate policy to the nation’s farm and ranch community.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Bill Even, CEO of the National Pork Board. Last year proved challenging for the nation’s swine producers and the pork industry despite a record-setting pace for global pork sales. While the new year offers challenges from higher feed costs, Even suggests the packing industry is processing animals at near capacity and demand for pork remains robust from both domestic and global markets. A continuing shift of consumers purchasing food online has brought new avenues in product promotion and associations in the food industry to reach consumers. Even says net-zero emissions for producing swine is attainable building on a well-documented path of sustainable production practices.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Steve Censky, CEO of the American Soybean Association. After serving as USDA Deputy Secretary in the Trump administration, Censky is back in St. Louis serving the nation’s soybean farmers. Censky is encouraged with the nomination of Tom Vilsack to return as Ag Secretary and is confident with other names that will assume leadership roles at USDA and the Biden cabinet. Sustainability has long since been a focus of ASA and Censky says soybean farmers are encouraged about the opportunity to participate in the nation’s climate debate. Censky says ASA is ready to work with the Biden team on global trade opportunities and the nation’s energy policy and renewable fuels.
This week’s Open Mic Guest is Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. The Georgia farmer spent time at a socially distanced county president’s conference in Kentucky last week. On the sidelines of the event, Duvall shared his thoughts on the pending debate about climate policy and agriculture’s efforts in sustainability. Duvall reflects on conversations with Ag Secretary Nominee Tom Vilsack and EPA Administrator Nominee Michael Regan. Duvall is hopeful the Biden trade team will work diligently to keep trade flowing with China, consider joining the other nations of the CPTPP and find a meaningful trade deal with the U.K. He remains adamant that Washington find a solution to the ag labor crisis and is hopeful a solution could come with this Congress and administration.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. The group’s annual meeting will be virtual this week with no shortage of topics to embrace for the new year. Conner says the group is hopeful the Biden administration will reconsider tax changes offered in the last hour by the previous administration and that legislators will be willing to embrace much-needed changes to immigration reform. Conner expects antagonists to use the upcoming climate debate to attack livestock producers but believes agriculture has enough positive evidence to win the day. Conner offers comments on using the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation to facilitate a carbon bank and the need for global market diversification.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. The nation’s ethanol industry was already in a state of financial stress before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation and sharply reduced demand for liquid motor fuels. In this interview, Skor discusses the challenges from the Trump administration’s approval of small refinery exemptions and the need for investment in retail infrastructure to meet consumer demand for fuels with higher ethanol blends. Recent studies support higher ethanol blends will help achieve climate goals for the U.S. and for global customers.