NAWG Weekly Update: January 28, 2016

Renewable Fuel Standard Attacks Possible in Senate
This week, the Senate started debate on a bipartisan energy bill and attacks on the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) are expected during the floor debate. An amendment to eliminate the RFS has been offered by Senator Cassidy (R-LA), and additional amendments are possible. NAWG supports maintaining the RFS and opposes any amendments to eliminate or alter the RFS. At time of publication today, it is uncertain when or if RFS amendments will be voted on in the Senate, but NAWG urges states and growers to be proactive and express support for the RFS to your senators. NAWG will keep members informed of additional amendments and possible votes as details become available.

NAWG Submits Comments on Pesticide Certification Regulation
Last week, NAWG filed comments with the EPA regarding the proposed pesticide certification requirements for the use of restricted use pesticides, expressing concern about the increased requirements on growers and state-managed programs. The additional training and testing requirements for individual applicators such as farmers put them more in line with requirements for commercial applicators, rather than recognizing a grower’s individual use. The proposal also places additional requirements on the states that operate the certification programs. Wheat growers are committed to safe handling and proper use of pesticides, but are concerned that the additional requirements of this proposal are not balanced with actual safety risks, pesticide use incidents and additional costs to growers and states. A copy of NAWG’s comments can be found here.

NAWG Participates in Monarch Collaborative
NAWG immediate past president, Paul Penner, worked through 2015 and early this year with a group to formalize the Monarch Collaborative. That effort was formally announced on Friday, highlighting the collective efforts of grower organizations, agribusinesses, conservation groups, universities and the federal government to address the declines in monarch butterfly habitat and populations. The work of the Collaborative is ongoing, and NAWG will remain engaged in the effort. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing a petition for listing the monarch butterfly, found across the U.S., as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The Keystone Policy Center is coordinating the Monarch Collaborative, and more information can be found at www.keystone.org.

USDA Deputy Secretary Harden to Step Down
Last week, USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden announced she would step down from her post at the end of February. In addition to serving as the deputy secretary, she previously served as assistant secretary for congressional relations, and subsequently as Secretary Vilsack’s chief of staff. She began her tenure at USDA in 2009, and she led the implementation efforts of the 2014 Farm Bill. In announcing her departure, Deputy Secretary Harden did not indicate what her next endeavor might be. With her departure, Secretary Vilsack noted Harden’s commitment to agriculture and rural America, and thanked her for her leadership and friendship. Vilsack also announced that Undersecretary Michael Scuse will serve as acting deputy secretary and that Deputy Undersecretary Alexis Taylor will assume the undersecretary role. NAWG thanks Deputy Secretary Harden for her tireless efforts serving America’s farmers and rural communities, and wishes her well in her next endeavor.

Wheat Leaders to Gather for Winter Wheat Conference
The NAWG/USW Joint Winter Wheat Conference will be held next week, February 3-6, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Conference attendees will have an opportunity to network with industry partners and congressional staff through legislative visits. Additionally, participants will conduct committee meetings in efforts to progress the wheat industry through collaborative discussions and key issue conversations. We look forward to seeing the nation’s wheat leaders in Washington, D.C. To view a full list of conference events click here.

Due to the Winter Wheat Conference, the next NAWG Weekly Update will be sent on February 11.