NAWG Weekly Update: August 4, 2016

Marshall Secures Victory in Primary Over Incumbent Huelskamp
Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, Dr. Roger Marshall from Kansas’ First district won the primary against three-term incumbent Rep. Tim Huelskamp, after a closely-followed race. Marshall, endorsed by the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and several other national and state agriculture groups, won with 57 percent of the vote to secure himself the candidacy. Marshall’s victory in the primary is an important step forward in reclaiming a House Agriculture Committee seat for Kansas’ First district. The “Big First” is the largest wheat-producing Congressional district in the country but has not had a voice there in nearly four years.

“Marshall’s victory in this primary is emblematic of the desire for true agriculture representation in Washington, D.C.,” says NAWG Vice President and Kansas’ First district farmer David Schemm. “He has demonstrated that he can work with Kansas farmers, listen to our needs, and be our effective advocate in Congress. NAWG looks forward to the opportunity to work with Dr. Marshall to secure a seat on the House Ag Committee, because the current fragile farm economy illustrates how important a functional Farm Bill is to rural America. We are thrilled to have backed a candidate who understands the needs of Kansas’ and U.S. wheat farmers and shown that he is willing to do even more for them in the upcoming Farm Bill.”

NAWG congratulates Marshall on his victory and looks forward to continuing to support him in the general election in his bid for the First district seat.

GMO Bill Signed into Law by POTUS
President Barack Obama signed the GMO labeling bill on July 29, 2016. This historic bill will require the mandatory labeling of food that contains genetic engineering. The legislation gives food producers the option to either label their products with wording or a symbol, or to provide a smart phone accessible digital QR code that when scanned, discloses information concerning whether the food contains ingredients made with biotechnology. The newly signed law will preempt a potential patchwork of state-based GMO labeling laws that could’ve caused chaos in the national food manufacturing and distribution system. With the President’s signature, the next step will be implementation of a national labeling system by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

EPA Science Panel Does Not Have Confidence in Chlorpyrifos Study
Earlier this year, NAWG signed on to a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy regarding EPA’s swift action to use one study to determine safe levels of exposure to chlorpyrifos. EPA convened a Scientific Advisory Plan (SAP) to review the study and that SAP has now concluded that the agency should not rely on an epidemiological study to set the safe levels of exposure for the pesticide, which is one of the most commonly used pesticides, proven to be safe and effective for an array of commodities. In NAWG’s letter to the EPA, we emphasized that the EPA should not move forward with changing decades of regulatory practice without properly considering the science-based data and efficacy of past regulatory practices. NAWG supports the review of crop protection tools based on sound science and transparent procedures, ensuring that growers have access to a variety of crop protection tools.  EPA’s recent actions call into question their adherence to a consistent, transparent regulatory process.

NAWG Welcomes Registration of New Wheat Herbicide
A new low application rate wheat herbicide, Quelex, received approval this week. Developed by Dow AgroSciences, the herbicide label has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, allowing the company to move forward with marketing the product. Containing the active ingredient Arylex, Quelex is the first product with a new active ingredient presented to the herbicide market for wheat production in over twenty years. Due to a lack of herbicide residue left on the crop after application, producers will have newfound flexibility for their crop rotation programs. This increased crop rotation flexibility will provide wheat growers with choices that will help them to improve soil condition; reduce weed, insect and disease pressure; enable successful conservation tillage and enhance our flexibility in seed variety selections. Additional information can be found on the Dow website at: http://www.dowagro.com/en-us/usag/news-and-resources/newsroom/2016/august/02/new-wheat-herbicide-offers-control-without-compromise

New Research Reveals Future of Wheat Genetics
By analyzing tissue algorithms, research teams from Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, known as CIMMYT in Mexico, have developed a way to select new varieties of wheat without having to invest the money and effort into producing the grain to test. New research has shown that breeders can look at DNA from a single plant and predict the ideal milling and baking characteristics it would contain. Before mapping out the entire wheat genome, breeders had to make educated predictions based off of the available metrics. Now that the genome is mapped, geneticists can select traits based off of new prediction models. “Quality is difficult to select for because historically you couldn’t assess a wheat variety’s quality characteristics until you had a certain amount of grain that you could test and, you can’t get that amount of grain to mill and bake without putting a lot of money and effort into getting it.” said Kansas State professor Allan Fritz. NAWG applauds this exciting ground-breaking research done by these teams and looks forward to the new varieties to come forth. This highlights the importance of the mapping of the wheat genome that was announced earlier in the year by the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium. Higher yields paired with higher quality in a wheat crop can help ensure a safe and sustainable global food source for years to come.

August Recess Is Opportunity for Engagement with Members of Congress
With Congress out of session and back in their home states for the month of August, now is the time for farmers to contact their members to discuss the issues that are most important to them. This extended break presents an opportunity for farmers to communicate with their representatives and urge them to act in the interests of wheat growers in prioritizing issues for the Farm Bill, such as crop insurance and other farm safety net programs. Farmers should be sure to attend local events and make their voices heard in the fight for policies which will have significant implications for agriculture.