NAWG Weekly Update 7/21/16

National Wheat Foundation Celebrates Legacy and Building
Thirty-eight years ago, National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) President Glenn Moore was nearing the end of his tenure when he realized that the way to ensure NAWG’s continuing influence as a commodity organization in Washington, D.C. was to purchase a building and build NAWG’s visibility.

This week, NAWG and the National Wheat Foundation (NWF) celebrate the paying off of the mortgage on the building purchased nearly forty years ago. Moore’s inspiring vision for the future of NAWG and NWF led to the investment in the building, and his huge bargain has manifested itself in wheat’s stable position as the third largest commodity in the country with an ambitious and active agenda.

“This was a historic week for the National Wheat Foundation and National Association of Wheat Growers. Nearly forty years ago, Glen Moore had the vision for the future of the wheat industry, which included solidifying a presence on Capitol Hill,” said NWF Chairman Phil McLain. “It was an honor to be joined by him this week during our Foundation’s board meeting and to hear about the important history of NAWG and the Wheat building.”

At the end of President Moore’s time with NAWG in 1978, his priority was to increase NAWG’s public presence with a permanent home in the city, and after consulting with the state organizations, and some minor setbacks, NAWG and NWF settled on 2nd Street in Capitol Hill to continue their advocacy work for wheat growers across the country.

With the Foundation newly created, a project was needed to bolster public attention for the new organization, and they began working with universities and private industries to promote and continue important research for wheat. With DuPont, Union Carbide, and the Rockefeller Foundation involved in the National Wheat Foundation’s agenda, NAWG and NWF were considered to be the most influential commodity organization in Washington, D.C. Their work is now continued in the areas of trade policy, environmental regulation, research and technology, and the industry projects of the National Wheat Foundation. With the backing of the National Wheat Foundation, NAWG is positioning itself to go into the creation of the next Farm Bill with the needs and priorities of U.S. wheat growers at the forefront of its drive to protect wheat growers and provide them with the tools to continue wheat’s legacy as an influential and successful commodity.

NAWG, NWF Attend USW Summer Conference
During U.S. Wheat Associates’ summer board meeting this week in Fargo, ND, the National Wheat Foundation held a meeting to discuss the FY 2017 budget and on-going Foundation projects, as well as to celebrate paying off the mortgage on the Wheat building in Washington, DC (see related story).  NAWG also participated in joint NAWG/USW policy committee meetings to discuss international trade, biotechnology, and food aid.

During the USW full board meeting, participants heard from a number of speakers, including North Dakota Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley, ND Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, and the president of the North Dakota Mill, among others.  Additionally, there was a panel discussion about current efforts to open agricultural trade with Cuba; panelists included Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s (D-ND) legislative assistant, Tyler Jameson; USW’s regional vice president in their Mexico office, Mitch Skalicky; and USW’s deputy policy director, Ben Conner.

Joint International Trade Policy Committee
The JITPC met and discussed the current status of USW’s study showing that China’s domestic support programs are costing U.S. wheat farmers around $650 million a year in lost revenue, Canadian grain grading issues, federal funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, and the status of Congressional attention to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), among other issues.

Joint Biotechnology Committee
In the JBC meeting members and the audience listened to an in-depth presentation from Dr. Jim Radtke with CIBUS on new breeding techniques and research the company is focused on, and how they may relate to wheat research. The JBC also heard updates from companies, on the GMO labeling bill and on the most recent Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21) meeting.

President Obama Signs Global Food Security Act into Law
After the House passed the Global Food Security Act earlier in July, the bill went to President Obama’s desk, where he signed it into law this week. The $1 billion-a-year global program, known as Feed the Future, will provide support to farmers in developing countries by supplying them with the tools, education, and programs for facilitating economic and agricultural growth in their countries. The Act passed the Senate in April, garnering bipartisan support in the House before passing overwhelmingly in support. By signing this bill into law, President Obama demonstrates the U.S.’s desire to help developing farmers achieve self-sufficiency in agricultural development, contributing to a global progress towards food security and emphasizing development in rural communities. This Act will also secure the Emergency Food Security Program, which will respond to emergency food needs of communities, while still protecting the food aid programs authorized by the Farm Bill. NAWG applauds President Obama’s actions in protecting the future of farmers in developing countries, while prioritizing the urgent need for global food security.

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Removed from Endangered Species List, But Still Under Review
Yesterday, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) posted in the Federal Register action to de-register the lesser prairie-chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). The action was effective immediately. The action by the agency was in response to a 2015 court order vacating the FWS decision to place the bird on the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Species. In a statement, the agency said “This administrative action and the decision not to appeal the court’s ruling do not constitute a biological determination on whether or not the lesser prairie-chicken warrants federal protection. The Service is undertaking a thorough re-evaluation of the bird’s status and the threats it faces using the best available scientific information to determine anew whether listing under the ESA is warranted.”

Monarch Collaborative Conference Set for Next Month
The Monarch Collaborative is holding a meeting in St. Louis next month to bring together individuals in agriculture, conservation, resource management and research communities to foster and enhance partnership opportunities to increase monarch habitat on the agricultural and rural landscapes.  NAWG is a member of the Monarch Collaborative along with other national organizations representing farmers, ranchers, and land owners; businesses working along the agricultural supply chain; researchers and academic institutions; federal and state entities; and conservation organizations. The group supports productive agriculture and livestock operations in concert with monarch conservation. An increase in milkweed and nectar plants appropriately placed in rural areas can benefit monarchs without inhibiting production. There is not a registration fee to participate at the conference, but to register and for more details, contact Suzan Klein at the Keystone Policy Center (sklein@keystone.org).  Additional materials on the Monarch Collaborative can be found here
https://www.keystone.org/our-work/agriculture/monarch-collaborative/