Open Mic Replay - An Extensive Catalog of Our Audio Interviews


Roger Johnson
Roger Johnson is president of the National Farmers Union. and a past Commissioner of Agriculture in North Dakota. NFU, as an organization, has shown an affinity toward small farmers and democratic party views, however In this year's farm and immigration debates, they are in step with a broad coalition of farm and labor organizations who want passage of bills that can be put into law. Johnson is frustrated with the U.S. House of Representatives and their inability to compromise on issues like the farm bill and discusses why passage is stalled in the House.

Dr. Rob Fraley
Dr. Rob Fraley was just named a winner of the 2013 World Food Prize for his role in revolutionary biotechnology discoveries. His career has several parallels with Dr. Norman Borlaug and his passion is as intense. Fraley talks about the use of plant biotechnology to feed a growing population, addressing global hunger and the challenges of gaining acceptance of technologies that change the status quo. He also comments on biotech wheat containing the Roundup Ready trait that was recently identified on an Oregon farm.

Shirley Bloomfield
Shirley Bloomfield, the CEO of NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association says rural customers want the same speed, clarity and quality of service as other Americans, but her members face several challenges delivering 21st Century technology, in part because wireless still needs a wired network. Her association is working with farm groups and others on a new Smart Rural Community Initiative to help boost education, telemedicine and economic development in rural areas. She also explains how failure to pass a farm bill impacts rural America and telecommunications firms who rely on USDA rural development programs.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver
Both urban and rural interests need to stick together in order for a farm bill to pass in the U.S. House of Representatives says Rep. Emanuel Cleaver in this week's Open Mic. Cleaver, whose congressional district covers both rural and urban parts of Northwest Missouri, is a former Kansas City mayor and the grandson of farmers. He is also past chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. He hopes to vote for the House farm legislation but explains why he would like to see the final bill look more like the Senate version.

Congressman Frank Lucas
Frank Lucas (Republican-Oklahoma) Chairs the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee and succeeded in getting a diverse farm bill through his committee in 2012 and 2013 with over a 3/4 majority. However, the toughest battle lies ahead, with floor debate expected in mid-June. Lucas talks about the major challenges of a bill that has budget restraints and forces on both sides pulling for their respective constituents. He is also watching the Senate debate "every minute I can spare" to see what that bill can offer when House members go to conference and sign a new bill into law before the current one expires on September 30.

Dr. Steve Meyer
Dr. Steve Meyer is president of Paragon Economics. He consults with the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council. As an economist, he examines the Smithfield Foods sale to a Chinese company and speculates on whether it will be given regulatory approval. He looks at the impact of such a move on grain and pork producers in the United States. Meyer also discusses the impact of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) on production facilities.

Cong. Rick Nolan
Congressman Rick Nolan is a democrat from Minnesota's 8th district. His primary industries are agriculture, forestry and mining. He holds the congressional record for the longest lapse between terms as he served in Congress (1975-1981), then left to go into business where he managed an international trade association and was owner and president of a forestry company. He returned to Congress this year, in his mid 60's, and now sits on the agriculture and transportation committees. Nolan speaks about then and now in the change in Congress and about the prospect for passage of the House Farm Legislation. He also talks about the EPA and the challenges faced by industries in his district.

Rep. Steve King
Congressman Steve King is an outspoken conservative member of the House Agriculture Committee. In this week's Open Mic, the Iowa Republican shares his observations about the farm bill that the committee wrote last week. King put through an egg amendment that may keep states from imposing standards that restrict commerce with other states. He also wants to cut the cost of SNAP and reduce other expenditures as well. King, who is in line to be chairman when the next farm bill comes up in 2018, also discusses how committee membership has changed.

Congressman Collin Peterson
With the Senate Agriculture Committee set to start writing a new farm bill on Tuesday and the House Agriculture Committee ready to follow a day later, Congressman Collin Peterson offers his views on how a new farm bill can hopefully get passed by both chambers this year. As the ranking Democrat, he talks about the compromises he's worked out with Chairman Frank Lucas on a host of issues and with Speaker John Boehner regarding dairy policy. Peterson also expresses confidence about a compromise on nutrition spending - even though the level of cuts in the House Agriculture Committee's draft bill are significantly higher than the Senate version.

Bing Von Bergen
This week's Open Mic guest is Bing Von Bergen, a wheat grower from Moccasin, Montana and president of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG). Wheat growers from the northern plains to Texas are faced with unpredictable weather and that is why crop insurance is a top priority for his association. But, the organization, which just hired a new CEO, also wants a revenue guarantee program in the commodity title that focuses on farm level losses. He also addresses biotechnology in wheat as the last major grain where genetic modification may be introduced.

Jim Costa
Representative Jim Costa, D-Calif., is a third generation farmer who is serving his ninth year in Congress. As he and his fellow members of the House Agriculture Committee start work on a new farm bill in May, he expresses optimism that compromises can be reached on contentious issues like SNAP and dairy reform and that there will be enough Democrats voting for the bill to ensure passage in 2013. He also discusses reform of our nation's immigration laws and the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Rosa DeLauro
Congressman Rosa DeLauro has strong opinions about hunger in America, farm programs, crop insurance and food safety. Her views offer insight into the challenges that lawmakers and farm groups will face whenever a new farm bill is scheduled for debate on the House floor. DeLauro represents Connecticut's Third District, which stretches from the Long Island Sound and New Haven to the Naugatuck Valley and Waterbury. She serves in the Democratic leadership as co-chair of the Steering and Policy Committee, and is the ranking member on the Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, where she oversees investments in education, health, and employment. She also serves on the subcommittee responsible for FDA and agriculture, where she oversees drug and food safety. In this week's Open Mic, DeLauro also discusses her objections to the Trans Pacific Partnership and fears that food safety will be compromised by the agreement.

Pam Johnson
Pam Johnson is President of the National Corn Growers Association and an Iowa corn grower who encourages all growers to be more politically active. Recent challenges to the Renewable Fuel Standard threaten not only the corn industry, but future biofuels under development. Johnson says NCGA is ready for a five-year farm bill to be written, but is not a fan of some of the policy options being discussed. She also discusses the potential for the 2013 corn crop and reinforces the value of corn to a growing world population.

Representative Bob Goodlatte
Bob Goodlatte is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. In this week's Open Mic, the Virginia Republican talks about pending immigration bills and the potential for bipartisan support in the Senate and House of Representatives. Goodlatte wants to eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and presents his argument for dismantling the requirement that corn-based ethanol be given an unfair advantage in the marketplace. The Chairman also speculates on the likelihood of a farm bill being written, debated and passed in this year and the potential change in the number of "no" votes that occurred in the last effort to pass the farm bill.

Senator Charles Grassley
The budgets passed by both the House and Senate are like 'night and day', but Senator Charles Grassley, believes that lawmakers must work toward a more balanced budget even as work begins again on a new farm bill. Its a difficult task, especially because Grassley says there are a lot of people in the U.S. Senate who don't understand agriculture. He also has opinions about how immigration should be modernized and what any new gun control legislation must not include. The Senator believes there are looming threats that agriculture must face including a cut in federal spending and a challenge to the Renewable Fuel Standard.

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