This week’s Open Mic guest is USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a number of challenges for the food production system in the nation. Censky speaks to the industry’s response to the crisis and the strength of the agriculture industry to respond to consumer needs. He says school nutrition is a top priority for the department and discusses the challenge to shift perishable foods into retail food channels as well as food banks across the country. He also addresses agriculture’s labor needs and cooperation between government agencies to see an adequate workforce in the nation as well as USDA efforts to assist young and beginning farmers.
Our guest for this week’s Open Mic is Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council. While the poultry industry faces similar challenges to others in the agriculture industry during the COVID-19 emergency here at home, there have been positive developments in export channels for U.S. products. As a result of China’s challenges with African Swine Fever and recent negotiations to open their borders, Sumner says U.S. poultry is filling a void for Chinese consumers. Sumner says USAPEEC is grateful for the effort of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to see agriculture included in trade negotiations with the European Union and holds hope for new export opportunities resulting from trade talks with the United Kingdom.
This week’s Open Mic guest is U.S. Congresswoman Angie Craig. The Minnesota 2nd District Representative serves a diverse constituent base including thousands of family farms. Craig shares her frustration with mixed messages coming from the Oval Office and the USDA on the prospect of a third round of Market Facilitation Program payments in 2020. Craig believes the Trump administration is waffling on its support of renewable fuels evidenced by its consideration of an appeal to the 10th Circuit Court’s ruling on the EPA’s granting of small refinery exemptions. Craig hopes for an infrastructure bill and doesn’t agree with the administration’s proposed changes to government nutrition programs.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Brett Begemann, Chief Operating Officer at Bayer Crop Science. Where do U.S. farmers stand in the face of increased global competition in the world? How is consumer perception affecting the development of agriculture innovation? What role does technology play in farmer sustainability goals? In this interview, Begemann addresses these and other difficult issues the industry faces and offers a glimpse of tomorrow’s agriculture systems.
This week's Open Mic guest is Ambassador Kip Tom, the leader of the U.S. efforts at the United Nations Food and Agriculture agencies in Rome. The Indiana farmer has a keen eye on the use of innovation to improve the conditions of smallholder farmers around the world, but is concerned about opposition to new technologies in food and agriculture. Tom says American producers should be invested in the work of the FAO and explains what he sees as the biggest challenges facing FAO and the global effort to fight hunger.
This week’s guest on Open Mic is Tim Palmer, president of the National Association of Conservation Districts. With a continued emphasis on climate change and sustainability in Washington, the work of conservation stewards nationwide is coming into clear view. The Iowa farmer says conservation practices help to mitigate national disasters like floods and wildfires. Palmer welcomes new initiatives by farm groups and USDA to reduce farming’s environmental impact while increasing productivity. Conservation programs survived debate in the 2018 farm bill, but Palmer says program funds should be maintained and staff restored to local conservation offices.