NAWG Weekly Updates, July 13, 2017

Senate Committee on Agriculture Hearing “Opportunities in Global and Local Markets, Specialty Crops, and Organics: Perspectives for the 2018 Farm Bill” 
On Thursday, July 13, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held their sixth hearing on the Farm Bill titled, “Opportunities in Global and Local Markets, Specialty Crops, and Organics: Perspectives for the 2018 Farm Bill.”  The panel of witnesses consisted of representatives from organic grain companies, organic and specialty crop producers, potato farmers, food distributors working with local markets, and beef and swine producers.  Discussion ranged from the inefficiency of the National Organic Program to foreign policies to the need for organic research and grant investment. However, there was one clear priority  among the witnesses and that was trade. Specifically, the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development Program (FMD).

In Chairman Robert’s opening remarks he stressed the necessity of trade and MAP and FMD, citing a specific example involving wheat, “In Egypt, the U.S. Wheat Associates have utilized the Foreign Market Development program to promote U.S. hard red spring wheat to be used as a pasta ingredient. As a result, an Egyptian food and beverage company imported 30,000 metric tons of hard red spring wheat in 2015 and 2016.”  Prior to the conclusion of the hearing Senator Roberts spoke of a meeting he had with President Trump a few days prior and expressed his confidence in the future of crop insurance as well as the President’s understanding of the national security concern and trade priority surrounding the Pacific Rim countries.  To watch Chairman Robert’s opening statement click here.  To read the testimonies of the witnesses click here.

House Panel Advances FY 2018 Ag Spending Bill
On Wednesday, July 12, 2017, the House Appropriations Committee considered and approved its version of the FY 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which funds the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Farm Credit Administration. The bill report includes important language supporting the Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative and the Small Grains Genomic Initiative, both of which have long been wheat research priorities for the wheat industry. The report also includes language encouraging further research into low Falling Numbers as well as the development of a new test.  Importantly, the bill also rejects the Trump Administration’s proposed closure of 17 Agriculture Research Service (ARS) facilities.  NAWG is concerned, though, about cuts in the bill to the ARS budget of $37.6 million.  Research investments are particularly important given the current conditions wheat farmers across the country are facing. Bill langauge can be found here.

House Members Send Letter to USTR on Importance of NAFTA
On June 30, 2017, Members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the USTR highlighting the importance of agriculture in the NAFTA renegotiation. Members from the U.S Senate sent a similar letter to the USTR on June 29, 2017. The House letter can be found here.

U.S. Farm Groups Urge Trump Administration to Not to Restrict Steel, Aluminum Imports
On Tuesday, July 11, 2017, NAWG, along with a broad coalition of farm groups, sent a letter to the Administration urging it to not to restrict imports of steel and aluminum under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The groups argued that restricting these imports could have the potential for “igniting a trade war” which would prompt other countries to slap duties on U.S. food and agriculture exports. “U.S. agriculture is highly dependent on exports, which means it is particularly vulnerable to retaliation,” the farm groups said in the letter Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross….”Many countries that export steel to the United States are also large importers of U.S. agriculture products. The potential for retaliation from these trading partners is very real.”

Additionally, on July 12, 2017, a group of 15 bipartisan economists who were former chairs of the White House council of Economic Advisers sent a letter to President Trump on the harms of imposing a steel import tariff by using the Section 232.
 
House Committee on Agriculture: Hearing Advisory

On Wednesday, July 12, the House Committee on Agriculture announced a full committee hearing on “The State of Infrastructure in Rural America” to be held next Wednesday, July 19, 2017. Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) is quoted as saying, “From broadband and transportation, to energy, water and research, public investment in infrastructure has been vital to the success and stability of our rural communities and has helped American agriculture thrive,” and expressed his interest in hearing ideas from the yet-to-be-revealed witnesses.  The hearing can be streamed at 10 a.m. on July 19, 2017 here.

National Wheat Yield Contest Spring Wheat Deadline is August 1st!
The National Wheat Yield Contest enrollment is finishing out its last couple of weeks. Entering its second year, the contest is sponsored by the National Wheat Foundation. The Contest is entirely web based and growers can enter at http://yieldcontest.wheatfoundation.org . Deadline to enter for spring wheat is August 1, 2017!