Balanced Reporting. Trusted Insights. Friday, January 28, 2022

Agri-Pulse Open Mic Interview

In depth interviews with leaders in ag policy
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Leslie Sarasin, FMI-The Food Industry Association


This week’s Open Mic guest is Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI-The Food Industry Association. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a tremendous strain on nearly every aspect of the food industry and seemingly overnight changes in consumer shopping patterns. Sarasin suggests many of those new paradigms are here to stay. FMI’s Grocery Shopper Trends survey indicates technology will play a greater role in how consumers shop for food and some well-defined differences in shopper attitudes and motivations. Sarasin suggests the farmer’s role in sustainable food production has an even greater role in consumer food selection.


Open Mic: Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind.


This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind. As Congress and the White House continue to wrangle with economic stimulus policy and a national infrastructure plan, the Hoosier member of the House Ways and Means Committee is deeply concerned with the direction, price tag and potential tax increases in pending legislation. She supports a full array of sources to supply the nation’s energy needs and is excited about sustainability projects. She is encouraged by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s ability to address ag export issues. Walorski also believes cybersecurity is a huge and growing threat to the nation and suggests action is needed against Russia’s actions on this front. 


Tom Gallagher, DMI


This week’s Open Mic guest is Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Incorporated. Few commodity groups in the nation have seen greater challenges than dairy farmers over the past several years. The COVID pandemic, higher feed costs, consolidation in the processing industry and drought are just a few of the challenges producers have endured. Yet, prices have stabilized and consumers continue to seek dairy products. Tom Gallagher says the industry is adapting to marketing concepts that reach younger consumers and sharing the dairy message of sustainability to an information thirsty consumer.


Former Ag Secretary Dan Glickman


This week’s Open Mic guest is Dan Glickman. After serving 18 years in Congress representing the Kansas 4th district, Glickman served as Secretary of Agriculture from 1995 to 2001. He chaired the Motion Picture Association for six years and recently authored a book, "Laughing at Myself. My education in Congress, on the Farm and at the Movies." As head of USDA, Glickman dealt with diversity issues and experienced resistance to genetically enhanced crops face to face in Rome. In this interview, Glickman discusses the need for an infrastructure package, immigration reform and the government’s role in climate policy.


California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson


This week’s Open Mic guest is Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. Johansson is a first-generation olive and citrus grower and well versed in the environmental, regulatory and social obstacles of farming on the West Coast. With a push toward climate-smart agriculture from the state and federal government, Johansson says farmers in his state shoulder a tremendous regulatory burden in addition to one of the worst droughts the state has ever experienced. Johansson discusses the ideological disagreement with those who call for land preservation and oppose working lands. Johansson says a shortage of farmworkers is an ongoing issue for California farmers and is impacting the variety of crops grown in his state.


Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill.

This week’s Open Mic guest is Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill. As a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the subject of funding President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package was before members last week. The Illinois 18thDistrict Representative says the nation’s roads, bridges, railways and inland waterways desperately need an influx of federal dollars, but not from increased taxes. LaHood believes Washington should play a role in developing climate-based revenue opportunities for farmers but doesn’t support heavy-handed mandates to accomplish environmental goals. LaHood favors reform of the WTO and a return to the CPTPP to expand exports.