Open Mic Replay - An Extensive Catalog of Our Audio Interviews


Harry Stine
As world leaders look for new ways to feed over nine billion people by 2050, they will need to draw on the expertise of Harry Stine, a legendary plant breeder and developer of high yielding soybeans and hybrid corn. Stine Seed was started by his father but the Iowa company focused primarily on seed cleaning until 1965 when Harry found some unusual soybean plants in a field and became interested in soybean breeding. He went on to found Stine Seed Farms by recognizing additional profit opportunities by breeding and developing higher yield lines. In 1973, he and business partners added hybrid corn to their breeding and commercialization. Stine speaks out about the current condition of agriculture and the prospects for increasing yields to meet future demand. He states his views on how technical advances in agriculture intertwine with the philosophical needs of society.

Jim Mulhern
Got dairy? Farm bill watchers are expressing optimism that a new 'deal' can be reached on dairy, but as always, the devil is in the details. Fresh off Capitol Hill Friday night - after another day of discussions about the dairy title - Agri-Pulse interviewed Jim Mulhern, the new President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. Although no formal agreement has been reached, Mulhern - who first started working on the hill in 1983 and has held numerous positions in the dairy industry - emphasizes that the conflict over dairy programs will not prevent the 2014 Farm, Food and Jobs Act from being brought to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. He expresses his desire to "call the bluff" of the Speaker of the House but realizes that political pressure on the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee won't allow that option. Mulhern also addresses "post farm bill" goals for immigration reform and fair and equitable labeling of U.S. dairy products in trade agreements with the European Union.

Tom Vilsack
Should USDA start implementing the farm bill's permanent law? U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, is holding off for now, but in this week's Open Mic, he explains what could happen if Congress can't get the job done and pass a new farm bill in the near future. He also discusses the potential "unintended consequences" of including Rep. Steve King's amendment with the farm bill and whether or not you'll hear about the farm bill in President Obama's State of the Union address. In this wide-ranging interview, the former Iowa Governor also talks about SNAP funding, the beef checkoff, immigration reform, and finding a "21st Century" solution to GMO labeling.

Jonathan Schrier
With the need to feed an estimated nine billion people by 2050, the U.S. government is taking a more comprehensive approach to addressing food security issues. Jonathan Shrier, the acting Special Representative for Global Food Security and Deputy Coordinator of Diplomacy at the State Department, describes the 'Feed the Future' initiative, which involves ten agencies, led by the Agency for International Development. Shrier says one in five children in the world is "stunted" because of lack of food and discusses several of the tools, including biotechnology, which can be used to address world hunger. He also shares how U.S. farmers and agribusinesses can play a more active role in helping feed the world and build capacity in other countries.

Dr. John Boozman
Dr. John Boozman, a Republican from Arkansas, is in his first term in the U.S. Senate following five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the Agriculture Committee and is keenly aware of the needs of Arkansas farmers who grow a wide variety of crops. Boozman addresses the long process of getting the Farm, Food and Jobs bill through Congress and delves into specifics on commodity and food and nutrition titles. He also challenges his northern counterparts in their efforts to tighten the definition of "Actively Engaged In Farming". He explains the workings of Congress, or lack thereof, in a contentious environment and the challenges it brings to producing good legislation.

Paul Hammes
Paul Hammes is Vice President and General Manager for Agricultural Shipping at the Union Pacific Railroad. He joined UP ten years ago in a period of merger and transition in the rail industry. Hammes previously held various trading, asset management and transportation roles with Cargill. He has served as chair of the National Grain and Feed Association's Shipper/Receiver Committee and is a trustee on the Farm Foundation Board. He discusses the current business climate for rail carriers and the relationship of the railroad to agribusiness. He also comments on the pending Water Resources Legislation..

Forrest Lucas
Who would have thought that a self-made man who started as a truck driver would become one of the biggest thorns in the side of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)? Forrest Lucas, president of Lucas Oil, launched a new organization, Protect the Harvest, (, to fight HSUS and others trying to negatively impact animal agriculture. Lucas is a strong voice for free enterprise and opposes government regulation including the ethanol mandate. He is an aggressive marketer, proven by the success of Lucas Oil and an investment of $120 million to put the name of his company on the Indianapolis Colts stadium for twenty years. Listen to this week's Open Mic to learn how became successful and decided to make the defeat of HSUS his legacy.

Dr. Keith Collins
Dr. Keith Collins served in the federal government for 32 years, working with several Agriculture Secretaries as USDA's Chief Economist for the last 15 years of his career before retiring in 2008. During his tenure, federal crop insurance evolved to be the primary safety net for the majority of U.S. farmers. Collins, now a consultant for the crop insurance industry, discusses how crop insurance is an underpinning of the overall economy. He also addressed the impact of billions of dollars in crop insurance claims in 2012 and whether or not the industry can withstand similar challenges.

Congressmand Steve Southerland
Congressman Steve Southerland is a Republican from Florida. He may be best known for an amendment to the 2013 House Farm Legislation that required a work component for a certain sector of recipients to continue receiving food aid. The "Southerland Amendment", upon party line passage, caused Democrat support to disintegrate and the the first defeat of farm legislation since it originated in the 1930's. Southerland talks of what he learned from the debate and the prospects for conferees, which he is one, to negotiate a merged bill that can be passed by both houses and signed by President Obama.

Congressman Mike Conaway
Congressman Mike Conaway is a Republican from a rural and agricultural district of west central Texas. He is the subcommittee chair for general farm commodities and risk management of the agriculture committee. Conaway sits just below the four principal negotiators on the conference committee for the farm, food and jobs bill that is currently being negotiated. He stated last week that he disagreed with Chairman Frank Lucas that the bill would come out of conference before Thanksgiving. "I would like for the Chairman to be right and for me to be wrong," he said on further questioning, "but I feel there are just too many areas that are unresolved to allow that." Conaway turned out to be right as many areas of the bill are still unsettled.

Dr. Mary Dell-Chilton
In the 1960's, Dr. Mary Del Chilton, a biologist, had an interest in a bacterium that would snip the genes of a tobacco plant and allow scientific manipulation or gene splicing. She was not sure it was anything that had commercial viability until CIBA-GEIGY (now Syngenta) came to see her at Washington University in St. Louis, where she was teaching. They convinced her to bring her skills to the fledgling biotechnology industry and switch from tobacco to corn. The rest is history as she was awarded the World Food Prize this year along with two other scientists who laid the groundwork for advancement in crop biotechnology. Agri-Pulse spoke with her during a news conference at the World Food Prize event as she was countering anti-biotechnology claims and discussing the unrecognized potential in this new era of genetic modification

Sen. Amy Klobuchar
As House and Senate leaders head into a farm bill conference meeting this week, Sen. Amy Klobuchar provides keen insight on the negotiations. She says the challenge is to merge the reductions in spending, contained in the House of Representatives Farm Bill, with the more moderate reductions in the Senate bill and to mediate those provisions in the final bill. She discusses the prospect of rolling the entire farm bill into a larger budget bill and how large a reduction there can be in nutrition spending without risking a presidential veto. Finally, she discusses a provision of the WRDA bill that would permanently close the Upper St. Anthony Lock on the Mississippi River to block Asian Carp from penetrating northern Minnesota rivers and lakes.

Ray Offenheiser
Ray Offenheiser is President of Oxfam America, a Non-Governmental Organization that focuses on food aid to developing countries. Oxfam is a member of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network and favors major reform in the food aid system, moving away from shipping grain in more costly American flag vessels to buying food near the area of famine to support the region, citing proposals offered by both Presidents Bush and Obama. Offenheiser also discusses the science, yet the wariness - within some countries - to receive genetically modified grains.

Jo Ann Emerson
Jo Ann Emerson recently became the CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperatives after a distinguished seventeen year career as a U.S. Representative from Missouri. She is only the fifth leader of the NRECA since it's inception. Major concerns of Rural Electric Coop's, and their members, include the need for Congressional assistance to serve low population areas and increased regulation and other mandates placed on both generating and distribution cooperatives. Still, Jo Ann Emerson believes that REC's are leading the way in increasing the mix of renewable and clean energy to make electricity. She also addressed storm damage and how a major principle of cooperatives is to help each other, even if the payment is just an IOU.

Ambassador Kenneth Quinn
Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize, joins us for a wide-ranging interview on Open Mic. This week, the WFP event will be held in Des Moines, Iowa with many internationally acclaimed speakers including Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Roman Catholic Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana. The WFP honors three scientists in 2013 who dedicated their careers to commercializing biotechnology in crops and addressing world hunger issues: Marc Van Montagu of Belgium,
Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert T. Fraley of the United States. The WFP encourages scientists and NGOs to talk about how to address crop production and distribution problems and plan for feeding nine billion people in the future, but activists are expected to protest the recognition of science-based solutions for modern agriculture. In this interview, Quinn addresses the issues head on and provides important context for the event, which was founded by Dr. Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Laureate in 1970 for his work in improved plant breeding.

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