NAWG Weekly Update: October 27, 2016

NAWG Welcomes Obama Administration’s Abstaining from U.N. Vote on Cuba Embargo

This week, the U.S. abstained from the 25th consecutive United Nations General Assembly Resolution condemning the Cuban Embargo. The U.S.’s abstaining from the vote is a departure from the last 24 years, as the U.S. has given an opposition vote to the resolution each year in the past. In opposing the resolution, past Administrations have supported the embargo which has been in practice for over 50 years. The Obama Administration’s move to abstain from the vote rather than outright opposing it demonstrates the Obama Administration’s new approach to Cuba and Obama’s goals of normalizing trade with Cuba. Ending the embargo would reopen Cuba as a viable market for American growers, who miss out on a substantial portion of market share due to barriers to successful trade with Cuba. Other countries with less restrictive regulations can take advantage of the Cuban market, to the detriment of American growers. NAWG welcomes the Obama Administration’s shift in practice by abstaining from the U.N.’s vote condemning the embargo, and encourages the path towards normalizing trade with Cuba to continue.

Contact your Members of Congress During Campaign Season

The election is less than two weeks away, and as we’re all aware, campaign activity is in full force. This time of year, more than ever, is a key opportunity for you to have your elected officials’ ear, particularly as your Senators and Members of Congress are likely holding town halls and other public events across your state and Congressional district. The Presidential candidates are also canvassing the country. Many of you are planting your winter wheat crop or harvesting other crops, but it’s critically important that you take time to attend events featuring your elected officials. There are many key issues that must be addressed before the end of the year, including the urgent need for action on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and action on appropriations bills to keep the government operating. And most importantly, your elected officials need to understand just how dire the economic conditions are in agriculture, particularly for wheat farmers. Low commodity prices don’t appear to be likely to improve any time soon, and our Members of Congress and Senators need to understand this context as development of the next Farm Bill gets underway.  It’s also important for you to be educated about the positions of our Presidential candidates, as they’ll either be signing or vetoing the next Farm Bill.

Our elected officials also need to understand the importance of FSA loan programs that help producers through these tough times; those programs have been oversubscribed and there could be an opportunity through the upcoming appropriations process to allocate additional resources. And finally, TPP has great potential to expand market opportunities for U.S. wheat farmers; the longer Congress waits to act the less likely we’ll be able to fully realize its benefits.

NAWG to Attend USW/NAWG Joint Fall Wheat Conference in Denver

Next week, NAWG will attend the Fall Wheat Conference in Denver, Colorado, held in conjunction with U.S. Wheat Associates. NAWG and USW policy committees will meet to discuss policy priorities, and the NAWG Board and NWF Board will also receive updates. The Joint NAWG/USW Board will also meet. While NAWG is at the Conference (Nov. 2-5), follow the NAWG and USW Twitter handles and Facebook pages and watch for the #FallWheatConference16 hashtag for photos and updates. If you have not already registered for the Conference, please do so before you arrive so that materials and a name badge will be ready to pick up when you arrive. You can register at this link. Due to the NAWG staff being away at this Conference, there will be no newsletter next week. The next newsletter will be published on November 10.

NWF Accepting Applications for Jerry Minore Scholarship
The NWF is accepting applications for the 2016 Jerry Minore Memorial Scholarship. Four scholarships will be awarded to students who have a personal connection to the wheat industry and a planned career path in agriculture. In its fifth year, the Jerry Minore Memorial Scholarship honors both high school and college students who have demonstrated success in academics and leadership roles.

The scholarship is named in honor of Jerry Minore, a longtime friend of, and an active participant in, the wheat industry. To honor Jerry’s life and work, the Minore Memorial Scholarship will fund two $1,500 scholarships and two $1,000 scholarships for the 2017-2018 academic year. All applications must be received via e-mail on or before December 31, 2016. Applications can be e-mailed to pmillard@wheatworld.org.

North Carolina Wheat Growers Hit Hard by Hurricane Matthew

Following the destruction of Hurricane Matthew up the Southeast coast of the United States, wheat growers and communities in North Carolina are still experiencing heavy flooding, power outages, and expect high farming losses throughout Eastern North Carolina. Dan Weathington, Executive Director of the North Carolina Small Grain Growers Association, said within a 24-hour period they received 15 inches of rain, with winds as high as 75 mph. As many as 1500 people had to be air- or water-lifted out of the area, and hospitals and city water systems are still at risk. Donations can be made to the American Red Cross, and locally to the Robeson County Church and Community Center (590 West Street, Lumberton, NC 28358). Everyone at NAWG sends their thoughts and prayers to growers and others in North Carolina and encourage people to contribute what they can to the relief funds. Additionally, USDA has designated several counties in North Carolina as primary natural disaster areas as a result of the flooding, making producers in primary and contiguous counties eligible for low interest emergency loans through the Farm Service Agency.