This week’s guest on Open Mic is Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin. The senior Senator of Illinois anticipates upcoming legislative action on a new farm bill as well as consideration of appropriations for the coming fiscal year. Senator Durbin voted for the original NAFTA and is hopeful for a successful conclusion to its renegotiation. Durbin supports the nation’s energy law and believes the White House can resolve concerns with the Renewable Fuel Standard. Like many in the agriculture industry, Durbin is concerned with the Trump Administration’s tariff threats and the risk of lost markets for farmers and ranchers.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. A long political agenda in the upper chamber is being further challenged by an extended list of confirmations for appointees for the Trump Administration. Kentucky’s McConnell gives an expected timetable for farm policy consideration and outlines his hemp bill that will be a part of the debate. McConnell shares thoughts on the Trump trade agenda, investment in infrastructure and goals for appropriations this year.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey. After an extended delay from nomination to confirmation, Northey, a fourth generation farmer and three term Secretary of Agriculture for his home state is on the job in Washington guiding the USDA’s efforts for farm production and conservation programs. Northey discusses Secretary Perdue’s reorganized plan for department programming and how the consolidation will impact farm customers and county offices across the country. Northey outlines the department’s efforts to upgrade technology to expand ways farmers can interact with Washington and his goals for better coordination among government agencies.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway. As his committee plans to markup the 2018 farm bill proposal on Wednesday, the Chairman shares thoughts on the politics and the key provisions in the draft proposal including proposed SNAP revisions, conservation programs, and adjustments to Title 1. The Texas Republican also discusses the Trump administration’s trade agenda and trusts USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide protection to potential trade retaliation from global trading partners. Conaway says the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard is unworkable and needs amendments by both the White House and Congress.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson. A House Ag impasse on nutrition policy has delayed policy markup of the new farm bill. In this interview, Ranking Member Collin Peterson offers insight to the minority pushback on Chairman Conaway’s draft proposal and other challenges a divided committee may bring to farm policy consideration. Peterson is skeptical of President Trump’s trade strategy and has strong words for potential administrative changes to the nation’s renewable fuel policy. Peterson explains his proposal to amend the Conservation Reserve Program and why other ag leaders should be on board.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Ray Starling, Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture, Trade and Food Assistance. With a rich career demonstrating a strong advocacy for agriculture, North Carolina native Starling finds himself in the middle of critical decisions over global trade, renewable fuels, and future farm policy. Starling shares industry concerns over possible Chinese trade retaliation and understands the levity of a pending White House decision on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Starling says the report from the President’s Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity is a road map for the White House goals for rural America.