NAWG Weekly Update: November 17, 2016

As a reminder, due to the holidays next week, the next NAWG Weekly Update will be two weeks from now, December 1.

 WILOT Class of 2016 Attends Training in St. Louis

This week, the Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow (WILOT) Class of 2016 is taking place in St, Louis Missouri. Sponsored and produced annually by Monsanto in partnership with the National Wheat Foundation, WILOT is designed for producers who want to take on a greater role in leadership by becoming more involved in their state wheat grower associations or by pursuing a position on the NAWG officer team. So far, the class went through personal skill identification and development training, received updates on how to use communications in advocacy and establish rapport with an uninformed public, and will learn how to effectively engage the public through new and traditional media outlets. Throughout the rest of the week, the class will tour several research facilities, hear from industry leaders, and receive targeted training in productive and successful lobbying techniques from NAWG staff.  The WILOT program is an excellent opportunity for growers to become trained, active participants in wheat advocacy and become more involved in their state associations.

NAWG participates in Sustainable Agriculture Summit

This week, NAWG Environmental Policy Advisor, Keira Franz, was in Atlanta participating in the 2016 Sustainable Agriculture Summit hosted by Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, the Innovation Center for US Dairy, the Pork Checkoff, the Sustainability Alliance for Specialty Crops, US Poultry and the US Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.  Franz spoke to the general session regarding sustainability and the next Farm Bill, highlighting NAWG’s farm bill process and discussion about USDA conservation programs and how they are working for wheat growers.  Franz also participated in a breakout session regarding NAWG’s participation in the Honey Bee Health Coalition and the Monarch Collaborative.  The Summit brought together different sectors of the agricultural supply chain including growers, agribusinesses, technology, government, academics, food companies and retailers to discuss sustainability challenges and opportunities. The Summit was followed by a day of Field to Market meetings.

Congress Back in Session, Look Ahead to 115th Congress

Following the elections, Congress came back into session this week and is starting to look ahead to the next Congress.  Republicans will maintain control of the both the Senate and House, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) will remain in their respective roles.  For the Democrats, the retirement of Minority Harry Reid (D-NV) meant that new leadership elections were held in the Senate; Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was selected by the caucus to be the new Minority Leader.  In the House, the Democratic Caucus will not be holding elections until after the Thanksgiving holiday recess, but Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said that she is running to continue in her role.

There have been a number of leadership changes for some key Congressional Committees.  While the Republican and Democratic leadership of both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees will likely remain unchanged, there were some changes atop the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, both of which have jurisdiction over key policies affecting agriculture.  For the Appropriations Committee, Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) is expected to maintain the chairmanship; however, Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) is retiring from the Senate at the end of the Congress; Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who is the most senior Democrat on the panel, will likely be the new Ranking Member.  Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) is expected to replace Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) as chairman of the EPW Committee and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) would be the next Senator in line to be Ranking Member.  Many of these positions will be finalized in the coming weeks.

NAWG is also engaged with the FY 2017 Appropriations process.  The federal government is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution that expires on December 9, 2016.  It remains to be seen what sort of action Congress will take in terms of either another short-term CR or moving on a full omnibus appropriations bill.  This week, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) indicated that they would be working on another short-term Continuing Resolution through March 2017.  However, there haven’t yet been clear indications about the Senate’s preference.

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