Listen to The Spokesman Speaks Podcast in your favorite podcast app

Welcome to Episode 7 of The Spokesman Speaks podcast. In this episode, we learn about a series of meetings Iowa farmers can attend to learn about their best risk management options through the new Farm Bill. You can learn more about those Farm Bill meetings here. This episode also includes the Chair of Iowa State University's Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, Dr. Ruth MacDonald, talking about imitation meat and milk and the CEO of MillerCoors talking about his company's response to Bud Light's Super Bowl ad attacking corn syrup.


Click here to view the transcript +


Narrator: Since 193, Iowa's farmers have turned to the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman as their trusted news source. Now The Spokesman Speaks. Listen in and hear from leading experts on topics important to farmers and agriculture. Now. Here's your host, Laurie Johns.


Laurie Johns: Welcome to The Spokesman Speaks Podcast. This is our February 25th edition. We're glad to have you along for the ride. In fact, we'd be happy to have you join us every other Monday when we release a new episode of this podcast. We're up to seven episodes now, so get subscribed to The Spokesman Speaks in your favorite podcast app, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Tune In Radio or Google Play. Lots to love there already and much more to come. During our last episode, we promised you more information about the Iowa Farm Bureau's newly launched Farm Bill meetings, which are designed to help Iowa's farmers make their best risk management decisions using the programs that they'll have at their disposal through the new Farm Bill. We have a lot more on those meetings in this episode. And we also have my discussion with Dr. Ruth MacDonald on the topic of meat and milk substitutes being sold at grocery stores. We have some research out about that and of course I tell you what, every time I talk to Dr. MacDonald, I learn something. I think you're going to find her insights really amazing. And we're going to wrap things up with the CEO of MillerCoors chatting about the, well we call it the corntraversy, but it is a serious deal when Bud Light's Superbowl commercial went out there attacking corn syrup. You know, when you think about it, it is serious because one in five jobs in Iowa come from agriculture. So yes, corn farming is a big deal and that's why a lot of people were upset about that and those commercials continue to run. But first Spokesman Editor Dirck Steimel sat down with Farmer Education Program Manager Ed Kordick to talk about Farm Bureau's new Farm Bill meetings and why they're important for farmers around the state. All set? Here's that discussion.


Dirck Steimel: We're here with Ed Kordick, Farmer Education Program Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau to talk about a series of Farm Bill meetings that Farm Bureau is holding around the state. Ed, why is it so important for farmers to attend these meetings on the new Farm Bill?


Ed Kordick: Dirck, you know, the, the Farm Bill is an every five year instance when we get a new look at risk management. So I think it's very important for farmers to understand what the legislation and rules say about their farming operations and how they can apply that to their own risk management plan.


Dirck Steimel: And should farmland owners also attend?


Ed Kordick: I think so. I think everyone involved in agriculture has an invested interest in understanding the details. Maybe they're not as involved in the day to day operations, but it certainly affects the operators income and their risk management. So they should be involved also in understanding some of the nuts and bolts of how the significant changes that they made in this Farm Bill apply to the operator.


Dirck Steimel: What do you see as the biggest differences between the new Farm Bill passed in late 2018 and the 2013 measure that was in place that's been in place the last several years?


Ed Kordick: I think the term that comes to my mind is improvements and flexibility. So if people remember the 2014 Farm Bill, it was very cut and dried. You made one decision and it was for the full five years of the Farm Bill. This one allows you to make a decision, it's available and in place for two years. And then in the third, fourth and fifth year of this Farm Bill, there's going to be a one year election. So whether I go with the ARC coverage or the PLC coverage, I make that decision in the third, fourth and fifth year again. So in addition to that, it's flexible in that the reference prices last time were very, very fixed, but now they can float with the market. So I think Congress and all of the Farm Bill writers put a lot of good flexibility in this Farm Bill.


Dirck Steimel: What are the key topics that you'll cover in your Farm Bill meetings?


Ed Kordick: The Farm Bill meetings are designed to get information out there and certainly all the farmers need to work with their county FSA on the details on their farm. But what we saw in the legislation was that loans were going to be updated and nationally, so every county loan in the state of Iowa will be updated. In general, the national county loan should be updated about or increased about 13% so if the national loan was $1.95 last time, it'd be about $2.20 now. The soybean loans were adjusted even higher at 24% so people will want to learn that. They'll also want to learn about this ARC and PLC decision that they need to make initially and then on in those out years. And then also this Farm Bill gives a great possibility that you can update your base and your yield updates. So just for certain portions of this Farm Bill, there's great flexibility and we need to learn about it.


Dirck Steimel: Ed, where will these Farm Bill meetings be held?


Ed Kordick: We're going to put them geographically throughout the state during this March, April, June, and July timeframe. So people should watch their Farm Bureau Spokesman, watch the website. We'll try to get one close to you so that you can learn about these new Farm Bill decisions.


Dirck Steimel: Are their signup deadlines in the new Farm Bill coming that farmers need to watch out for?


Ed Kordick: I'm sure there will be, but because the Farm Bill was passed in 2018 and a lot of the rules and regulations are still kind of being written as we go. So this is going to be an evolving process. My guess is that we will be able to have farmers sign up through their county FSA in late summer, so we're running these Farm Bills in the spring and then into the summer so that we can get as close to that decision as possible and give the people the most accurate information we can.


Dirck Steimel: How can farmers find out more about these Farm Bill meetings and and the new Farm Bill in general?


Ed Kordick: We'll have articles in the Spokesman. We'll have a web presence that I'm really excited about because we'll have our schedule on so people can go there to see as we schedule more and more meetings. In addition to that on that website we'll have some more information, some important links and other things that people can use to learn about their Farm Bill decisions.


Laurie Johns: Going to be an interesting year. Farmers do have some big risk management decisions to make in the coming months and we hope that you'll attend one of those Farm Bill meetings you heard about. They're coming to your area. Choose the best option for your farm. Learn a lot. To find the meetings near you visit From the Farm Bill we turn to a topic that hits close to home for Iowa's livestock farmers, the marketing and perception of meat and milk substitutes. Dr. Ruth MacDonald is the chair of Iowa State University's Food Science and Human Nutrition department. She's also the star of our newest Iowa Minute, which is an Iowa Farm Bureau produced 60 second news feature that you can watch on local news stations all around the state. In the new Iowa Minute, Dr. MacDonald shares her take on meat and milk substitutes and all of the food hysteria, really, that's out there. But you know the hard part about an Iowa Minute is you can only capture so much information in a minute. So we're excited to bring you, our podcast listeners, more of our interview with Dr. MacDonald. Listen in. Okay, Doc. Why don't you tell me, when the people have a lot of questions about real meat versus this, I suppose, substitute meat or imitation meat, what is the biggest nutritional difference?


Dr. MacDonald: Well, animal source foods such as meat, dairy, eggs contain what's called nutritionally a high quality protein. That means that they contain amino acids, which are the specific components of proteins in the right amounts and the right type that we need as humans to make our own body proteins. Plant foods are not high quality proteins. They are usually lacking in one or more of those essential amino acids.


Laurie Johns: So it's not a better game for them nutritionally, I mean if you're giving up red meat for the sake of better nutrition, it's not, it's not a good idea?


Dr. MacDonald: Yeah and animal based foods, in addition to the proteins, also contain minerals and vitamins that are available in a way that our body can readily absorb them and use them. In plant foods sometimes those vitamins and minerals get bound up and not as readily available. So it takes some scientific technology to create artificial meats that would be equal in the nutritional value of the animal based foods.


Laurie Johns: So this scientific technology, do you mean it takes an awful lot of processing?


Dr. MacDonald: Yeah, it would be, there are technologies available to create artificial meat, but they are highly processed to get to that point.


Laurie Johns: Not a better game nutritionally?


Dr. MacDonald: Eventually, they may be equivalent nutritionally, but it would, again, take a lot of processing technology to get to that point and adding back the nutrients that are already naturally occurring in the animal based foods.


Laurie Johns: Do they also have sometimes more salt, more sugar, more calories more?


Dr. MacDonald: Yeah. You have to read labels carefully to make sure that you are getting a nutritionally equivalent product and that it doesn't contain a lot of additives.


Laurie Johns: And meat is safe for the family?


Dr. MacDonald: Meat is safe to consume. It's also part of a healthy diet. It's something that provides a well rounded source of protein and all the vitamins and minerals that are available in meat. And if you handle it properly, you cook it properly, it can be part of a healthy diet. There's lots of hype around meat and how we have that as part of our diet and there's a lot of factors that are involved in decisions about what we choose to eat. I think it's important that people not be fearful of food. I think that meats and dairy and eggs are, are healthy foods. They can be part of a good diet. Moderation is always important and having a balance of other fruits and vegetables in your diet is important. But to be afraid of food because of the misinformation that's out there is unfortunate.


Laurie Johns: The conversation about meat substitutes has taken on a new life with recent news about those lab grown products. Of course concerns about mislabeling and misconceptions aren't just limited to meat. Dairy farmers have been dealing with this issue for years as well. I asked Dr. MacDonald about that.


Dr. MacDonald: Well, milk is what comes from cows and from mammary glands. So anything that is not from an animal is not really milk. So, soy milk or almond milk or rice milk are really just extracts from those plants and they are not equivalent to the kind of product that you would get from a cow because they lack the amount of calcium. They also don't have enough of the right fats that are found in dairy products. So they're not equivalent to dairy milk.


Laurie Johns: And these labels are so confusing. I mean even TV commercials, hormones, we don't want hormones in our kids milk! O'Hormone free milk! Is there such a thing?


Dr. MacDonald: Well, hormones are naturally occurring in any living being. And so there are already, there are hormones present in the products derived from cows because they are naturally produced. But the amount that are there are not significant to human health. Most hormones that we find in those products are digested. They're not absorbed into the body and they don't have a biological activity that would be equivalent to our hormonal action.


Laurie Johns: It is important to connect consumers with real experts on the meat and dairy products they purchase. And by the way, that's you. We certainly appreciate Dr. Macdonald's help sharing facts about the safety, nutrition of meat, milk and eggs. Always some wonderful insight from Dr. MacDonald. Dispelling misinformation is a challenge, but you can have a little fun with it too. By now, you've probably seen or heard of Bud Light's Superbowl ad bad mouthing corn syrup. Farmers around the country were not happy when they saw that one, but quickly found an eager ally in Bud Light's chief rival MillerCoors. Earlier this month, MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley traveled to Iowa for a Toast to Farmers Tour, thanking Iowa farmers, buying them Coors Light at three different bars in central Iowa. Iowa Farm Bureau's Zach Bader caught up with Hattersley during the tour. Tough gig, right? Let's hear how that conversation went.


Zach Bader: Here with MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley. Gavin, we're in Ames, Iowa, let's start with the basics here. Why are we in Ames enjoying a Coors Light together here?


Gavin Hattersley: We're here to drink a toast to the farmers for growing the crops that we need to put great ingredients into our beer. We're proud of our ingredients and we're really proud of the farmers that grow them.


Zach Bader: Where did this toast to farmers, this national toast to farmers idea come from and why do you think it's so important?


Gavin Hattersley: Well, it's really important because for 12 days we've listened to the largest beer company in the world Anheuser Busch, Bud Light, denigrate both our brands and denigrate corn farmers. And we don't think that's right. So, we thought it was really important at the end of a long work week to drink a toast to our farmers and thank them for everything that they do. We wouldn't have our great beers, we wouldn't be able to make Coors Light as refreshing and flavorful as we do if we didn't have the corn farmers and so we want to drink a toast to them.


Zach Bader: You know, I know I grew up on a farm myself. I know that Iowa farmers take a lot of pride in what they do, whether they're growing corn, soybeans, cattle, hogs, they take a lot of pride in what they do. They take a lot of pride in the end product as well. So a company like MillerCoors, how do you feel about the ingredients that you source from Iowa's farmers including corn?


Gavin Hattersley: We're very proud of them. We wouldn't use them in our beers if they weren't great ingredients. We wouldn't be able to produce the consistently refreshing and staple beers that we do without the corn farmer, without American farmers across the board. So it's really important to us. Zach Bader: Any thoughts that you'd like to share? Again, this is a group of farmers from around lowa who are listening to the podcast here. Any final thoughts that you'd like to share with them?


Gavin Hattersley: I'd just like to thank them for everything they do and I'm being a little repetitive here, but we wouldn't be able to produce Miller Lite and Coors Light as we do if it wasn't for them. So they put a lot of hard work into it, it's really sad that that Anheuser Busch Bud Light is, is piling on and throwing an enormous amount of money behind denigrating them from MillerCoors, Coors Light, Miller Lite, we'd just like to say thank you. We appreciate everything you do.


Laurie Johns: Well, cheers to you guys and gals. We certainly appreciate your hard work. We raise a glass to you as well. That does it for this episode of The Spokesman Speaks Podcast. Be sure to join us for our next episode on March 11th. Until next time, thanks for reading The Spokesman and thanks for all the great stories and inspiration. Thanks for listening to The Spokesman Speaks.


Narrator: Thank you for listening to The Spokesman Speaks, a Podcast by Iowa Farm Bureau. Check out more podcasts and articles from The Spokesman at You can also find and subscribe to The Spokesman Speaks Podcast in the Apple Podcasts app, Google Play, and other popular podcast apps. We appreciate your ratings and reviews and welcome your feedback at



About The Spokesman Speaks Podcast

Since 1934,  The Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman has been Iowa’s leading agriculture news source, and today it is the largest circulation ag newspaper in Iowa. While the Spokesman newspaper is available exclusively to Iowa Farm Bureau members, The Spokesman Speaks podcast is available publicly, reaching farmers on-the-go with stories that matter to them. You can find episodes of the podcast at or subscribe and listen in your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher or TuneInRadio.

We release new podcast episodes every other Monday. Episode 8 will be released on March 11, 2019.