NAWG Weekly Update: August 20, 2015

Congress Set to Tackle Number of Issues in September
The House of Representatives and Senate are in August recess until after Labor Day. NAWG encourages producers to meet with their Members of Congress and Senators to discuss issues you’re confronting in your operations and to provide input about Farm Bill implementation.

When Congress returns, both chambers have a number of important issues that must be addressed before the end of fiscal year 2015, which concludes on September 30. Congress must either pass an omnibus Appropriations bill or a continuing resolution (CR) in order to avoid another government shutdown. A shutdown is not out of the question, as neither chamber has acted on all 12 Appropriations bills and the full Senate has not acted on any. While this is not unusual, as most of the last decade has required continuing resolutions, there are a number of controversial policy disputes, which could lead to an inability to reach an agreement on a CR.

In addition to these high profile funding and policy decisions are several key policy reauthorizations before the Agriculture Committees. Congress must reauthorize or extend the Grain Standards Act, which governs grain inspections for export. They also need to take action on domestic trade, school lunch and school breakfast programs, and the Mandatory Price Reporting Act before their expiration at the end of September. Additionally, the current short-term extension of the transportation bill, which provides funding for the Highway Trust Fund, expires at the end of October. While each of these issues must be dealt with in the very near term, the federal government is also close to hitting the debt ceiling, which will require Congressional action this fall in order to enable the federal government to continue paying its bills.

NAWG continues to be engaged on important issues before Congress affecting wheat farmers.

Maps Provide Interpretation of Water Rule
Interactive maps released by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) show the reach of the Waters of the U.S. Regulation. The maps of Montana, Pennsylvania and Virginia include the different views based on the definitions and distances in the new regulation including waters within the 100-year flood plain and 1,500 feet of a tributary and waters within 4,000 feet of a tributary. NAWG has been critical of the uncertainty growers will face under the regulation and the difficulty in knowing which waters will be jurisdictional under the Clean Water Act.  Even the Army Corps of Engineers staff has expressed a lack of understanding of the regulation and how staff will interpret the rule that goes into effect next week on August 28. NAWG urges Congress to take action as soon as possible to delay the regulation. Take the opportunity to visit with your Member of Congress about this issue during the August recess.

Additional information from AFBF about the maps can be found here. Maps are available for Montana, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

NAWG Participates in Monarch Meeting 
NAWG Immediate Past President Paul Penner traveled to Minnesota this week to participate in the steering committee meeting of the Monarch Collaborative hosted by the Keystone Policy Center. The meeting follows ongoing discussions after a large group meeting last spring. The group is working to develop a framework for further discussion and collaborative efforts to provide education and outreach on the issues surrounding the declining habitat for the Monarch butterfly. Monarch butterflies have been declining in the U.S., Canada and Mexico as has their preferred habitat – milkweed. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the Monarch for possible listing as an endangered species. Earlier this summer EPA released a Risk Management Approach to Identifying Options for Protecting the Monarch Butterfly, with comments due on August 24. The NAWG Environment and Renewable Resources Committee is developing comments on behalf of wheat growers. NAWG policy supports efforts to prevent the listing of the Monarch butterfly as an endangered species.

Wheat Foundation Accepting Applications for Jerry Minore Scholarship
The National Wheat Foundation (NWF) is accepting applications for the Jerry Minore Memorial Scholarship. Four scholarships will be awarded to students who have a personal connection to the wheat industry and a planned career path in agriculture.

“NWF is proud to join BASF in supporting the future of the U.S. wheat industry by emphasizing the power of a good education,” said NWF Chairman Dusty Tallman, a Colorado wheat grower. “In its brief history, the Minore Memorial Scholarship has already provided 12 outstanding individuals the opportunity to continue their chosen course of study.”

The scholarship is named in honor of Jerry Minore, a longtime friend of, and an active participant in, the wheat industry. To honor Jerry’s life and work, the Minore Memorial Scholarship will fund two $1,500 scholarships and two $1,000 scholarships for the 2016-2017 academic year. All applications must be post-marked on or before December 11, 2015. Applications can be emailed to PMillard@wheatworld.org.