NAWG Weekly Update: October 13, 2016

NAWG Attends Food Assistance and Food Security Conference
This week USDA and USAID held the 2016 International Food Assistance and Food Security Conference in Des Moines, IA, prior to the World Food Prize events later in the week. The conference brought forth themes on how to secure the world from hunger, and the United States’ global engagement. Breakout sessions and panels ranged from current food assistance programs including the use of in-kind and monetization, evidence based evaluations, nutrition, use of big data and the perspective of recipient countries. The Conference also served as a platform for USAID to announce their 10-year Food for Peace Strategy as well as next steps for the Global Food Security Act implementation. NAWG, alongside US Wheat Associates, attended the conference to share the perspective and support of US wheat growers on food assistance and food security and hosted a booth to educate conference attendees during networking sessions. The conference was attended by a variety of stakeholders from grower groups to Private Voluntary Organizations (PVO) to food aid manufacturers to country governments that participate in programs under these two agencies, and many more groups in attendance. CEO Chandler Goule attended the World Food Prize, also in Des Moines, where he spoke with Julie Borlaug, granddaughter of Norman Borlaug, commonly known as “the father of the Green Revolution.” Dedicated to the goal of improving food security by developing improved grain varieties, Norman Borlaug was a leader in advancing wheat varieties to their current stage of productivity and profitability, and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for this work. Achieving food security and combatting hunger around the world is a priority of NAWG’s, and we support the inclusion of wheat in food aid packages.

NAWG Calls on Congress to Fund Public Education on Biotechnology in Ag
Last week, NAWG signed on to a letter to the U.S. Senate and House leadership supporting the inclusion of $3 million in the Fiscal Year 2017 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The funds will be applied to informing the public about the benefits realized by the application of biotechnology to food and agriculture production. Since the passing of the GMO labeling bill by Congress this summer, and its signing by President Obama, biotechnology in food has risen to the forefront of consumers’ attention. As the letter states, there is a considerable amount of misinformation about agriculture biotechnology in the public domain. The $3 million, recommended by many agricultural organizations would specify that key federal agencies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are equipped to successfully convey to the public science- and fact-based information demonstrating the safety of food products containing GMO-produced ingredients. The innovations that biotechnology has brought are crucial for increased production, environmental conservation, and food security. NAWG this funding to mitigate negative public opinion regarding biotechnology in food, and encourages Congress to retain the funding provision and oppose any legislative action to restrict agriculture technology development.

Food for Peace 10 Year Strategy
During the 2016 International Food Assistance and Food Security Conference USAID launched their 10-year Food for Peace strategy. For over 60 years Food for Peace has contributed food aid to countries in need, providing critical food interventions to over 3 billion hungry people in that timespan. The program was originally intended to purchase US commodities to send to areas in need of direct food aid. Today the program, authorized in the Farm Bill, includes other avenues to provide food aid to reach the goal of food security. The new strategy highlights one main goal to improve and sustain food security through a framework that includes various strategic objectives, intermediate results, cross-cutting intermediate results and corporate objectives. NAWG continues to support the use of in-kind food aid in Food for Peace and will continue to engage as USAID progresses on their 10-year strategy.

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 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 in a state of emergency. 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.

Find My Seed Technology Available for Farmer Use
NAWG recently learned of Agrible’s free seed selector tool, Find My Seed. Although this is not an endorsement, NAWG shares this information for growers to take advantage of if they wish. Find My Seed by Agrible, Inc. is an independent, unbiased, and free seed selector tool for wheat (summer and winter), corn, soybean, oat, barley, and cotton growers. Find My Seed combines over 300,000 third-party seed trial plots covering 20,000 varieties into an easy-to-use online interface that helps growers find the highest-yielding seed for their unique conditions. After a grower selects a few options based on criteria that is important to them, like location, soil type, seed technology, and brand, Find My Seed shows the top performing seeds based on these factors. All seed data is taken from independent studies from universities, independent researchers, and other third-party groups. It is then curated, standardized, and made easily searchable by an expert team of agronomists and developers.

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.