Tuesday Talks With Dr. Patterson

March 2015

March 31, 2015

Understanding Agricultural Biotechnologies

Last week we saw multiple discussions on agricultural biotechnologies related to health, consumer interests, government policies, and corporate strategy. Most of these discussions revolved around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and related agricultural inputs. The discussions are serious and reflect diverse viewpoints. Importantly, they point to a need for better understanding of agricultural biotechnologies. Agriculturalists and agriculture advocates need to become better skilled in advancing this understanding.

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March 17, 2015

Where's the Beef?

Where’s the beef? This was the catchphrase made famous by a 1984 commercial for Wendy’s, which was attempting to draw a contrast between its meaty hamburgers and its competitor’s hamburgers composed of small beef patties with large fluffy buns. The phrase grew into a popular idiom during this time period and was used to challenge the credibility or substance of someone’s argument. It was famously used by Walter Mondale in a retort directed at Gary Hart during a 1984 Democratic Party presidential primary debate. Today, meat industry leaders and members of congress might just be asking “where’s the beef” of the Secretaries of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture in response to the recent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) report. Furthermore, their question could be interpreted both figuratively and literally in this case.

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March 10, 2015

Looking for an Agreement on Trade

The United States reached a record $150 billion in agricultural exports during 2014, which is estimated to support about one million jobs in the United States (FAS). In an effort to create more export opportunities for U.S. goods and, hence, more jobs, the Obama administration has been engaged in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). To expedite the successful completion of these trade talks, the administration has sought Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) from Congress. While progress is being made on the TPP, efforts to gain TPA have been thwarted by members of the President’s own political party. Meanwhile, broad segments of U.S. agriculture are very supportive of successful completion of the TPP and urge Congress to grant TPA.

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March 3, 2015

Still Waiting on Immigration Reform

Many watched last week as the U.S. House of Representatives grappled with passing a budget bill for the Department of Homeland Security before funding for the current fiscal year was to expire. The shutdown of this agency was narrowly averted by a couple of hours. Some House Republicans were interested in inserting language in the budget bill that would nullify President Obama’s executive order on immigration issued in November. Facing concern that the Senate would not support a budget bill with such language, the House settled for a bill on Friday providing a one week budget extension. So, when the House and Senate reconvene this week, they will attempt to complete a budget bill for the remainder of the fiscal year. Meanwhile, many in the agricultural sector continue to wait for Congress to provide needed immigration reform during this new session. And, they have been waiting for over 15 years.

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