NAWG Weekly Update: January 7, 2016

USDA Releases “Actively Engaged” Final Rule
On December 15, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it was finalizing a rule to alter the definition of “actively engaged” for purposes of determining farm program eligibility. The final rule follows up on a proposed rule issued by the department last March and closely follows the initial proposal. NAWG submitted comments on the proposed rule, seeking clarification about applicability of certain components of the rule and urging USDA to provide flexibility.

The final rule exempts family farmers and is to apply to general partnerships and joint ventures where an individual is attempting to qualify more than one farm manager. The rule would limit such operations to up to three individuals qualifying as farm managers, given certain conditions, and requiring such individuals to make a “significant contribution” of active personal management or a significant contribution of the combination of active personal labor and active personal management. The text of the rule includes additional details describing what constitutes a significant contribution, which is generally described in terms of time commitment.

In terms of the economic impact of the rule, USDA estimates that around 3,200 joint operations could lose eligibility for around $106 million in total ARC, PLC and marketing loan program benefits in 2016 through 2018. Additionally, the rule will be applicable for the 2016 crop year for producers who only have spring-planted crops and effective for the 2017 crop year for producers who have both spring- and fall-planted crops. Additional information about the details of the rule can be found at the links above.

USBCA Provides Input on 2016 Strategic Agriculture Innovation Dialogue
NAWG and other members of the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance (USBCA) sent a letter to the U.S. trade representative this week to provide input on the 2016 Strategic Agriculture Innovation Dialogue (SAID). SAID brings together U.S. and Chinese government representatives to discuss prevalent food, environmental and economic challenges and how agriculture can play a role in these areas. USBCA encourages the U.S. government to keep biotechnology on the front lines in discussions to “establish a transparent, predictable and practical approach” for approvals and imports of grains and oilseeds that may contain crop biotechnology.

NAWG Supports Storcide II Registration
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is undertaking a re-registration review of chlorpyrifos methyl, marketed as Storcide II by Bayer CropScience. NAWG voiced support for the continued registration of Storcide II due to its use by wheat growers when storing grain. In a letter to the EPA, NAWG President Brett Blankenship stated, “NAWG is concerned that effective products that are regularly used by farmers might be removed from the market to focus on newer chemistries. While we support new product development, it is important that growers have options that are efficient and cost effective. Producers need a variety of options for pest control and effective products should not be removed from the market.”

Winter Wheat Conference Approaching Quickly
The Wheat Industry Winter Conference, held jointly with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), will be held February 3-6, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. The reservation deadline for the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill has been extended to January 11 to receive the conference rate. To register for the conference, please click here. Click here to access the NAWG and USW room block. View a complete meeting agenda here.

Early Registration Deadline for 2016 Commodity Classic Nears
Thursday, January 14, is the last day to take advantage of early registration fees for the 2016 Commodity Classic, which is to be held March 3-5 in New Orleans. Early registrations indicate this year’s Commodity Classic will be another record breaker. Full registration includes admission to the Commodity Classic as well as access to all educational sessions, the Friday general session, the main stage presentations on the trade show floor, and Saturday’s evening of entertainment featuring award-winning country music group Sawyer Brown. Full registration also includes lunch and snacks served at the trade show. For growers and their families, as well as media and state or national commodity organization staff, full registration also includes the welcome reception on Wednesday evening.

The fee for full registration is $190 for dues-paying members of the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and the National Sorghum Producers. Registration fees will increase to $215 after January 14. For more information, visit www.CommodityClassic.com.