With holiday baking in full swing, millions of Americans will likely be purchasing or consuming a little extra sugar this season. Jack Roney, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis for the American Sugar Alliance, explains why sugar prices have been dropping and how the "no cost" U.S. sugar policy removes some of the price volatility that historically plagued growers before its enactment. Roney talks about the sugar industry's use of Political Action Committee donations to influence Congress and describes how growers are willing to level the farm policy playing field around the globe. But citing the European Union as an example, he says it would be suicidal to eliminate all tariffs or buffers unless every other sugar-producing nation did so at the same time.
Congressman Tom Latham was re-elected after a tough campaign against Democrat Leonard Boswell in a newly shaped Iowa congressional district. We asked Latham, who has deep roots in agriculture, about commitments from his friend and colleague, Speaker John Boehner, regarding action on the 2012 farm bill and how the funding baseline might change if nothing happens. He also discusses tax issues as part of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations taking place between President Barack Obama and House and Senate leaders.
Without a new farm bill to authorize funding for USDA export programs, U.S. farmers and ranchers will start to lose a competitive edge to their foreign competitors. That's just one of the farm bill topics that USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse addresses in this week's Open Mic. He also talks about further cost-cutting at USDA, farm program efficiencies and expanding trade with Russia, a country the former Delaware Secretary of Agriculture will tour in early December, along with other state agricultural leaders.
Most national polls indicate that the race for president is incredibly close with fewer than a dozen swing states still in play. We asked Dr. Joe Aistrup to discuss the importance of the rural vote on this week's Agri-Pulse Open Mic. Aistrup, who is a Political Science Professor at Kansas State University and interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, specializes in examining political races. He is also the author of two books. "Kansas Politics and Government: The Clash of Political Cultures" and "The Southern Strategy Revisited: Top-Down Republican Party Development in the South" Aistrup dissected the politics of agriculture and rural America for both the presidential campaigns and key congressional races. He also speculates on whether or not this election will end the current gridlock in Congress.
Jeff Simmons is President of Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly and Company, and a passionate advocate for the role technology plays in sustainable, efficient production of safe, affordable meat, dairy and eggs. In his 23 years with company, he traveled to some of the harshest regions of the globe and gained experiences that have shaped his perspective on food and agriculture. In this week's Open Mic, he verbalizes his deep conviction for finding global solutions to world hunger, using an egg to illustrate part of the challenges ahead. Simmons, who grew up on a family farm in New York, also questions animal rights activists from the perspective of human welfare and animal welfare.
This week's Open Mic guest is Dan Glickman, former Kansas Congressman and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for six years of the Clinton Administration. Glickman praised the bi-partisan efforts of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees but is distraught at the opposition to the bill by conservative House Republicans. He also comments about food and nutrition as well as shrinking the federal budget and cutting the size of the USDA.