NAWG Weekly Update, May 25, 2017

Administration’s FY2018 Budget Request Calls for Deep Cuts to Crop Insurance and Other Priority Programs

On May 23, 2017, the Trump Administration released its FY2018 Budget Request which makes significant cuts to several Farm Bill programs, including crop insurance, commodity programs, conservation programs, rural economic development, and SNAP.  Overall cuts to USDA programs would total about $240 billion in mandatory spending over 10 years and it would maintain the 21% reduction to discretionary programs. In regards to crop insurance, the request calls for cuts up to $28.56 billion over 10 years. The proposal also calls for $5.8 billion in cuts to conservation programs over the next 10 years through the elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. This measure is expected to save over $1 billion over 10 years by lowering the AGI cap to $500,000.

The budget request also proposes significant cuts to agricultural research programs, including to the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative.  The request would also propose to close several Agriculture Research Service (ARS) facilities.  These sort of proposals are shortsighted, particularly given the importance of publicly funded research for the wheat industry.

NAWG understands the administration is facing pressure to reduce spending and lower the national debt. However, proposing cuts to crop insurance and other key Farm Bill programs is not the right approach and ignores the needs of rural America. Budget proposals should support U.S. farmers and this once misses the mark. NAWG will actively work to make sure these proposals aren’t enacted by Congress. Read NAWG’s statement in response to the President’s budget request here: http://bit.ly/2qRUhSb.

With the release of the budget request, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing on Wednesday morning where USDA Secretary Perdue testified to defend the budget proposal.  As would be expected, several Members of the Committee raised serious concerns about the proposed crop insurance cuts, and NAWG thanks those Members for discussing the importance of the program.  Secretary Perdue noted during the hearing that he agrees that crop insurance is important and framed the proposal as being a recommendation from the Administration to Congress for the Farm Bill.  During the hearing, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) also noted to the Secretary the importance of agriculture research, particularly given the emergence of Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus in his state of Kansas and neighboring areas.

Senate Ag Committee Holds Hearing to Examine the Farm Economy

On May 25, 2017, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a hearing to examine the farm economy in rural America. Members heard testimony from USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson who spoke on several domestic and global factors generating low commodity prices and the financial implication this has on farmers. Additional witnesses included Nathan Kauffman, assistant vice president and Omaha branch executive with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City; Bruce Weber, professor emeritus of applied economics and director of the rural studies program at Oregon State University; and Alec Sheffer, director of retail sales for Agri-AFC.

NAWG issued a release appaulding the Committee for holding the hearing.
Farm Foundation Holds Forum On Ag Regulations

On, Wednesday, May 24th, 2017, The Farm Foundation held a forum, “What’s in Store for Food and Agriculture Regulations?”. The forum featured Rebeckah Adcock, Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretary Sonny Perdue and USDA Regulator Reform Officer; Mike strain, Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry; and Mark Scholl, President of J&M Scholl Inc., a family agricultural holding company. The participants provided their view of regulatory reform within the food and agriculture industry.

Ms. Adcock discussed at length the planned process for the USDA to undergo regulatory reform and noted that they intend to make regulations logical to those outside of Washington D.C. The USDA has an internal regulatory review committee and will be establishing a function for public input. In addition, she noted the creation of the Agricultural and Rural Prosperity Task force which will work to reform multi-agency regulations. Commissioner Strain emphasized the importance of state and federal partnerships and providing states flexibility where allowable. Mr. Scholl discussed how a regulatory environment can stifle innovation to genetic and crop protection products. All acknowledged the challenge of working with regulations imposed outside of the United States and ensuring US agricultural products can be accepted into foreign markets.

House Passes H.R. 953, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act Clears 

On May 24, 2017, H.R. 953, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act passed out of the House of Representatives with a 256-165 vote. H.R. 953 eliminates a duplicative regulation that now requires pesticide applicators to obtain NPDES permits under the Clean Water Act. Pesticide applications are currently and should continue to be regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  Pesticide applications are subject to the terms printed on the label. It is against the law to apply pesticides in a manner that does not comply with the label. FIFRA has been in place for over 30 years and pesticides are regularly reviewed with new products continually brought to market. The additional regulation of a Clean Water Act permit requirement is unnecessary.

The National Association of Wheat Growers supports H.R. 953.
NAWG Speaks at 2017 U.S. Wheat’s 2017 World Staff Conference

On May 24, 2017, NAWG CEO Chandler Goule spoke at the U.S. Wheat Associates’ 2017 World Staff Conference in Estes Park, Colorado. Goule provided an update on NAWG’s 2017 legislative priorities, market development funding, and discussed barriers, most notably the Heritage Foundation, to achieving successful passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Pictures of Goule giving his presentation can be found on Twitter and Facebook.
NAWG Submits Comments on GE Moth Field Trials

On May 19, 2017, NAWG provided comments on the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) notice on the environmental assessment for Diamondback Moth field trials, genetically engineered (GE) moths to reduce population of the moth known to be plant pest in certain vegetable crops. In its comments, NAWG states that it supports Cornell University’s application to conduct a very limited trial to control the diamondback moth by utilizing a self-limiting insect technology and encourages USDA to approve the permit application.
2017 All Aboard Wheat Harvest

Follow High Plains Journal’s correspondents as they share their report of the 2017 wheat harvest and give their audience an inside look into the life of a custom harvester.  Visit http://allaboardharvest.com/ to subscribe to email updates and view the combine cam. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.