NAWG Weekly Update: April 27, 2017

NAWG Hosts its Annual Board Officer Retreat
This week NAWG hosted its annual board officers retreat. Board members attended several meetings with the administration, congressional staff, and other commodity groups. Most notably, NAWG’s board officers met with Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Hanlon and additional staff from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to discuss NAWG’s top priorities. The board also met with Ray Starling, Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture, Trade and Food Assistance of the National Economic Council, to discuss the importance of trade to wheat farmers and focused the conversation on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Trade Organization’s complaint against China, and general market access. The board also discussed its priorities and concerns for the 2018 Farm Bill reauthorization with majority and minority staff from both the House and Senate Committees on Agriculture.

President Trump Agrees to Not Terminate But Rather Renegotiate NAFTA
On April 26, 2017, President Donald Trump told the leaders of Canada and Mexico Wednesday he was not immediately planning to end the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), according to CNN. “In a description of Trump’s phone calls to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Enrique Peña Nieto, the White House said Trump ‘agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time and the leaders agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable the renegotiation of the NAFTA deal to the benefit of all three countries.’” Alarmed about possible withdrawal from NAFTA, NAWG, USW, and other commodity groups released statements arguing that withdrawing from NAFTA would be a serious mistake. NAWG and USW sent out a joint release affirming that “withdrawing from NAFTA could lead to new tariffs on U.S. wheat and threaten to undermine the long-standing, loyal relationship U.S. wheat farmers have built with Mexico’s wheat buyers and food industry.”

U.S. Senate Confirms Sonny Perdue as Head of U.S. Department of Agriculture
On Monday, April 24, 2017, The Senate confirmed former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as Agriculture secretary by a vote of 87-11. In our release, NAWG congratulated Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue on his confirmation as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. “His experience as a farmer and a governor of an agriculture state make him an ideal candidate to run the country’s leading authority on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, and nutrition policy.”

NAWG Praises Introduction of The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017
On April 26, 2017, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) introduced bipartisan legislation to change the way agencies issue rules for the first time in 70 years, according to E&E News. “The long-awaited ‘Regulatory Accountability Act’ would amend the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act by requiring federal agencies to conduct cost-benefit analyses. The proposal would also trigger an automatic review process for major regulations, allow hearings on the most significant federal actions and require agencies to inform the public earlier before they plan to begin working on a new rule.” NAWG issued a release in support of the bill arguing that The RAA will create a better regulatory framework and process from the get go, so wheat growers won’t continue to be faces with increased regulatory burdens that don’t show substantial benefits.

National Wheat Foundation Extends Winter Wheat Deadline to May 15th for the National Wheat Yield Contest
The National Wheat Foundation announces an extension for Winter Wheat enrollment in the National Wheat Yield Contest to May 15th! Growers now have until close of business on May 15th to register a winter wheat variety. This is a two week extension from the original deadline of May 1st. Contest Director, Steve Joehl, reasons, “The spring has been delayed by over two weeks across the northern tier states and winter wheat is just coming out of dormancy. Extra time to assess the wheat crop’s yield potential will be beneficial to attract more entries to the Contest from these states. In addition, growers there are up against spring planting deadlines, and are trying to seed at every opportunity. This extension provides those interested in entering some valuable time to complete the process.” The registration process is all online at http://yieldcontest.wheatfoundation.org!

NAWG Speaks to Kansas State University Honor Students
On Thursday, April 27, the American Bakers Association hosted Kansas State University Grain Science Honor students for a two-day emersion into the convergence of science, industry, legislative policy and government regulation. These students came from three undergraduate majors: milling, baking and feed science. NAWG’s Vice President of Policy and Communications, Josh Tonsager, provided the students an overview of our organization and discussed NAWG’s priorities for 2017.