Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has challenged rural Americans to rethink their relevance in the U.S. political process in light of the failure of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a new farm bill. The former Iowa Governor and presidential candidate insists that President Obama clearly wants a new farm bill, but suggests that House leadership needs a little push to get the job done before year-end, when permanent law could kick in for dairy price supports and before the federal funding baseline shrinks further as we head into 2013.
Rep. Marcia Fudge, who represents the 11th District of Ohio, talks about her commitment to ending childhood obesity, stamping out hunger, and protecting the SNAP program on Open Mic. She also addresses efforts to grow more local food in her district surrounding Cleveland, one of the top five cities in the U.S. for the most urban farm acres. On the Agriculture Committee, she is the Ranking Member of the Department Operations, Oversight and Credit Sub-committee of the Agriculture Committee and also sits on the Committee on Education and the Workforce. In the 113th Congress, she will lead the Congressional Black Caucus, setting the political agenda for more than 40 black members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
A lot of politicians talk about the fiscal cliff, but dairy farmers are worried about the "dairy cliff" they face in January. If Congress fails to pass a new farm bill by year-end, dairymen will be first to fall under the 1949 permanent legislation, boosting prices to $38/cwt. Chris Galen, Senior Vice-President of Communications for the National Milk Producers Federation, discusses the political and structural problems facing the dairy industry and the need for a federal program that gives producers direction in management and marketing decisions. He also discusses the challenges faced by new USDA School Lunch rules for sweetened and flavored milk.
Oklahoma Republican Frank Lucas joins us again on Agri-Pulse Open Mic to discuss the current state of the farm bill negotiations and how the savings from reforms advanced by his committee could become part of the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations as a down payment on the nations debt, either this year or next. But Lucas, who was elected last week for a second term as House Agriculture Committee Chairman says much depends on ongoing negotiations between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner.
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.