Open Mic Replay - An Extensive Catalog of Our Audio Interviews


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.

Michael Scuse
Without a new farm bill to authorize funding for USDA export programs, U.S. farmers and ranchers will start to lose a competitive edge to their foreign competitors. That's just one of the farm bill topics that USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse addresses in this week's Open Mic. He also talks about further cost-cutting at USDA, farm program efficiencies and expanding trade with Russia, a country the former Delaware Secretary of Agriculture will tour in early December, along with other state agricultural leaders.

Tom Latham
Congressman Tom Latham was re-elected after a tough campaign against Democrat Leonard Boswell in a newly shaped Iowa congressional district. We asked Latham, who has deep roots in agriculture, about commitments from his friend and colleague, Speaker John Boehner, regarding action on the 2012 farm bill and how the funding baseline might change if nothing happens. He also discusses tax issues as part of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations taking place between President Barack Obama and House and Senate leaders.

Jack Roney
With holiday baking in full swing, millions of Americans will likely be purchasing or consuming a little extra sugar this season. Jack Roney, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis for the American Sugar Alliance, explains why sugar prices have been dropping and how the "no cost" U.S. sugar policy removes some of the price volatility that historically plagued growers before its enactment. Roney talks about the sugar industry's use of Political Action Committee donations to influence Congress and describes how growers are willing to level the farm policy playing field around the globe. But citing the European Union as an example, he says it would be suicidal to eliminate all tariffs or buffers unless every other sugar-producing nation did so at the same time.

Dr. Joe Aistrup
Most national polls indicate that the race for president is incredibly close with fewer than a dozen swing states still in play. We asked Dr. Joe Aistrup to discuss the importance of the rural vote on this week's Agri-Pulse Open Mic. Aistrup, who is a Political Science Professor at Kansas State University and interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, specializes in examining political races. He is also the author of two books. "Kansas Politics and Government: The Clash of Political Cultures" and "The Southern Strategy Revisited: Top-Down Republican Party Development in the South" Aistrup dissected the politics of agriculture and rural America for both the presidential campaigns and key congressional races. He also speculates on whether or not this election will end the current gridlock in Congress.

Jeff Simmons
Jeff Simmons is President of Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly and Company, and a passionate advocate for the role technology plays in sustainable, efficient production of safe, affordable meat, dairy and eggs. In his 23 years with company, he traveled to some of the harshest regions of the globe and gained experiences that have shaped his perspective on food and agriculture. In this week's Open Mic, he verbalizes his deep conviction for finding global solutions to world hunger, using an egg to illustrate part of the challenges ahead. Simmons, who grew up on a family farm in New York, also questions animal rights activists from the perspective of human welfare and animal welfare.

Tom Sleight
Tom Sleight has devoted most of his professional career to the U.S. Grains Council. Two years ago, he came back to the council and was named President and CEO in June. Sleight has served in the United States and abroad, even in the Soviet Union, as a promoter of U.S. grain exports. The council now works with the Foreign Agricultural Service and export oriented organizations to create markets for corn, barley and sorghum. Sleight talks about the potential of China to produce more grain but to also continue to import larger quantities each year. He is concerned about the river transportation system in the Upper Midwest and the opportunities of the Panama Canal having larger capacity.

Chris Schaffer
Moving commodities like corn, soybeans and DDGs from key growing regions of the Midwest to major Asian customers is a very big task, but our guest on this week's Open Mic tells how its done and describes some of the associated challenges. Chris Schaffer, who serves as Ag Processing Inc.'s senior director of exports, talks about his cooperative's efforts to be the fastest, most efficient exporter in the Pacific Northwest, moving product through its new port terminal elevator at the Port of Grays Harbor (PGH), Schaffer, who first joined AGP in 1994, spent a brief stint at the U.S. Grain Council (USGC) as the manager of operations for Asian markets from 1999 to 2001. During this time, Schaffer established relationships with Asian customers and focused on educating off-shore customers about GMOs and biotechnology. In 2001, he brought his knowledge of export markets back to AGP where he continues to focus on expanding market opportunities for their farmer members.

Dan Glickman
This week's Open Mic guest is Dan Glickman, former Kansas Congressman and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for six years of the Clinton Administration. Glickman praised the bi-partisan efforts of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees but is distraught at the opposition to the bill by conservative House Republicans. He also comments about food and nutrition as well as shrinking the federal budget and cutting the size of the USDA.

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