NAWG Weekly Update: January 14, 2016

House Votes to Stop WOTUS Rule, Veto Looms
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 253-166 in support of S.J. Res. 22, a resolution of disapproval of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation. Under the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate can pass a resolution of disapproval to stop regulations they feel overstepped the agency’s authority. The resolution must be signed into law to become effective, and the administration has indicated the president will veto the legislation. The vote margin is not sufficient to override a veto. The regulation is still under review by the courts and NAWG will continue to work on a legislative resolution.

In Final SOTU, President Obama Touches on TPP, Cuba
On Tuesday evening, President Obama delivered his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Throughout the address, the president broadly discussed his successes throughout his presidency, as well as his regrets about what he says has been a growing polarization of politics over the last few years. He touched briefly on a number of issues, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the importance of ending the embargo on Cuba. In saying that TPP would cut 18,000 taxes on American-made products in the form of tariff reductions and elimination in the participating countries, and that it would enable the U.S. to set the rules in the region instead of China, President Obama called on Congress to quickly approve the agreement. Additionally, the president talked about administrative actions he’s taken to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, and he framed the importance of congressional action to end the embargo on Cuba in terms of enabling the U.S. to consolidate our leadership in the western hemisphere and in terms of improving the lives of the Cuban people.

NAWG Participates in Farm Foundation Round Table
Over 200 representatives from the agricultural value chain gathered last week in Tucson, Arizona, for the semi-annual Farm Foundation Round Table. The two primary topics of the presentations and discussions were immigration and labor, and international trade. Participants learned from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and local area ranchers about the impact border security has on border farming and ranching operations, as well as the safe and legal importation of food items. Participants also heard from those involved in international trade agreement negotiations, including chief U.S. ag trade negotiator, Darcy Vetter, about the importance of having the TPP agreement approved in a timely manner, and the challenges facing negotiators in making progress on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Consensus among the presenters and the attendees was that it would be extremely difficult to obtain congressional approval of TPP before the national elections or even prior to the inauguration of the next U.S. president. Obtaining congressional approval of TPP will require a massive effort from the U.S. agricultural industry. Farm Foundation is a nonprofit, non-advocacy organization that works as a catalyst for sound public policy by providing objective information, which fosters a deeper understanding of the issues shaping the future for agriculture, food systems and rural regions.

GMO Labeling Debate Continues
As Congress starts the second half of the 114th session, GMO labeling remains a priority for the agricultural sector. The Vermont GMO labeling requirements are to be implemented on July 1, 2016, making it a necessity for the House and Senate to move quickly on passage of a bill supporting a national, uniform solution, rather than a patchwork of state laws. NAWG, alongside the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, remains committed to finding a solution that is best for everyone, from consumers to producers. As we look to leadership in Congress, we encourage NAWG members to reach out to their delegation to reiterate the importance of bill passage prior to July 2016 in a bipartisan fashion that produces a uniform, science-based national approach to the GMO labeling debate.

Get the “Big Easy” Experience
Soak up the rich cultural uniqueness of New Orleans with tours of the historical city at the 2016 Commodity Classic. Optional tours include the Garden District and other New Orleans area highlights: a deep dive into the religious history of New Orleans, including the legendary above-ground tombs, the area’s oldest church, historic Lafayette Cemetery and the gravesite of a notorious voodoo queen; a journey through one of the wildest swamps and marshlands in North America with your choice of a flatboat or airboat as your mode of transportation; tours of unique businesses including a sugar refinery, a coffee processor and a state-of-the-art grain handling port facility; and opportunities to enjoy the unique flavors and cuisine of New Orleans, as well as shopping along eclectic and diverse Magazine Street. Tour reservations are confirmed on a first-come, space-available basis. The deadline for pre-registration is February 10. For a complete tour details including costs and schedules, visit www.CommodityClassic.com/optional-tours.