Open Mic Replay - An Extensive Catalog of Our Audio Interviews

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Jerry L. Hatfield, Ph.D.
As hundreds gather in Washington this week to celebrate Ag Day, we can celebrate that today's farmers each feed more than 144 people. But how do we continue to increase productivity in order to feed a growing, global population that's expected to top 9 billion by 2050? Dr. Jerry Hatfield, director of USDA's National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, says 300 bu. corn and 100 bu. soybean yield goals are attainable, but it will require rethinking increased climate variability, as well as placing a new focus on genetics, the environment and soil systems management. His comments on Open Mic are particularly timely as lawmakers grapple with budget cuts in research and conservation programs cuts that could derail some of the changes he says are needed to meet future challenges with productivity and adaptation.

Steve Troxler
From immigration to water quality and a host of regulatory issues, members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) deal with a broad portfolio of issues every day. Steve Troxler is the North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture and the current president of NASDA. In this week's Open Mic, Troxler is very optimistic that farmers and agribusinesses will do what's right for the environment and the consumer, but he is a little less sure of what Congress will be able to achieve at the federal level.

John Larson
Will there still be adequate federal dollars available to help get more conservation practices on the ground? That's one of the big questions facing John Larson as CEO of the National Association of Conservation Districts. Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees included important reforms in the conservation title of the farm bill last year, but the future is uncertain. The Washington state native also discusses how implementing more conservation on working lands can help improve soil health and water quality, while giving growers more regulatory certainty.

Tim Buzby
Twenty-five years ago, President Ronald Reagan signed the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987, which responded to the farm credit crisis and established the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation. Since that time, "Farmer Mac" has served as the primary secondary market for agricultural loans with cumulative business volume exceeding $29 billion. On this week's Open Mic, CEO Tim Buzby explains how Farmer Mac has changed over the years and discusses the similarities and differences with other government-sponsored enterprises. He also shares his views on whats ahead for the agricultural economy and the potential for higher interest rates.

Senator Mark Pryor
U.S. Senator Mark Pryor would like to see bipartisan solutions to some of our nations most troubling budget issues, but in this week's Open Mic, he paints a fairly bleak picture. The Arkansan chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and talks about some of his priorities and his concerns about cutting direct payments to address the looming March 1 sequester. A long-time advocate for rice farmers in his state, Pryor tells why he voted against the Senate farm bill last year and how he views the Obama administration's proposals on gun control.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp
In his first term Rep. Tim Huelskamp earned a reputation of bucking the political system and party leadership positions that prompted the Republican House Steering Committee to strip him of plum committee assignments in the 113th Congress, including the Agriculture and Budget Committees. But the Kansas farmer handily won re-election in the state's "Big First" District and he's proud of being a fiscal conservative - one of only nine members in the 435-member U.S. House to have earned a 100 percent rating from the conservative Club for Growth for 2011. In this week's Open Mic, we asked him about sequestration and other budget issues, the farm bill and immigration reform.

Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh and Dr. David Kohl
Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh does not hold back on his opinions about the inability of Congress to act on a new farm bill. Dr. David Kohl agrees and also is concerned about U.S. monetary policy and the pending change at the Federal Reserve. The seasoned duo still has great hope for agriculture and our economy. Both cite government as the greatest impediment to growth. Dr. David Kohl is a long time professor of Agricultural Economics at Virginia Tech University. He focuses on the banking industry and it's relationship with agriculture. Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh has been teaching students for forty-two years at Kansas State University and contributed to numerous pieces of farm legislation dating back to the Nixon administration. Most notably, his work in the 1990's led to the 1996 farm bill known as "Freedom to Farm".

Charlie Stenholm
From his work with the Boll Weevils to the Blue Dogs, former Congressman Charlie Stenholm established a reputation for getting things done in Congress through bipartisan alliances - something that's almost unheard of in today's highly polarized political environment. In this Agri-Pulse Open Mic interview, he tells us why he believes a short-term increase in the debt limit and passage of a new federal budget are crucial to getting a farm bill passed this year. And the life-long farmer has some advice to farm organizations about how they need to change to address some of the political and agricultural challenges of the future including food, water and energy. A member of the House Committee on Agriculture throughout his 26-year House career, Stenholm served as the ranking Democrat for his last eight years until 2004. Currently, Stenholm is a Senior Policy Advisor at OFW Law.

Mark Lange
Extension of the 2008 farm bill for another nine months creates more questions than answers for the U.S. cotton industry. Mark Lange, President and CEO of the National Cotton Council joins us on Open Mic to discuss the how he expects the farm bill debate to play out, especially in light of Brazil's successful WTO challenge to the U.S. cotton program. Lange, a former ag economics professor, also talks about why crop insurance does not work equally well for all commodities and shares thoughts on how the new ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., might influence the outcome of the next farm bill.

Jerry Slominski
The "dairy cliff" has been avoided, leaving many dairy producers frustrated with the failure of Congress to adopt much needed reforms. However, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) is pleased with the additional time to rethink policy options, such as those offered last year by Reps. Bob Goodlatte and David Scott. On this week's Open Mic, Jerry Slominski, Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs for IDFA, explains his association's views on dairy policy reforms, shares concerns about declining domestic consumption of milk and the terrific opportunities for the U.S. dairy industry in expanding exports.

Jill Long Thompson
Dr. Jill Long Thompson was named Chair and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration in November, after serving on the FCA Board since March. Ms. Long Thompson has many years of leadership experience, representing northeast Indiana as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives and as Chair of the Rural Caucus. From 1995 to 2001, she served as Under Secretary for Rural Development in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she oversaw an annual budget of $10 billion and a staff of 7,000 employees. In this week's Open Mic, she discusses the oversight requirements of the FCA and the financial health of the Farm Credit System and agriculture, in general. With skyrocketing farmland prices, she describes the differences between the current agricultural economy and the last extended era of agriculultural prosperity in the 1970's.

Tom Vilsack
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.

Marcia Fudge
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.

Chris Galen
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.

Rep. Frank Lucas
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.



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