NAWG Weekly Updates, July 20, 2017

NAWG To Testify at Senate Ag Cmte Hearing on Crop Insurance
Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced witnesses for the Committee’s upcoming hearing titled “Commodities, Credit, and Crop Insurance: Perspectives on Risk Management Tools and Trends for the 2018 Farm Bill.” NAWG President David Schemm will be testifying on the first panel on the importance of a strong risk management system.

FY 2018 Funding Gets House and Senate Attention
Both the House Budget Committee considered its version of the FY 2018 budget resolution and the Senate Appropriations Committee held a markup of its FY 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill this week. While the mark-ups were separate, we had similar concerns going into those markups.

The House Budget Committee completed its markup on Wednesday, July 19 with no amendments offered that came after crop insurance or other Farm Bill programs.  However, the direction to the Agriculture Committee to cut $10 billion (over ten years) that was in the original base text of the Budget resolution was maintained.  The Budget resolution will now go to the House floor.

Additionally, the Senate Appropriations Committee completed its markup of the FY 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill on Thursday, July 20.  The Committee reported out the bill unanimously, and it will now be set for possible floor consideration.  Here again, there were no amendments offered coming after crop insurance.  However, the bill does include important report language supportive of several key wheat research programs, including the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, the Small Grains Genomic Initiative, and Falling Numbers.  The Committee has not yet publicly released the text of the bill or bill report, but highlights of the bill can be found here.

U.S. Wheat Industry Releases Statement on NAFTA Renegotiation Objectives
On July 17, 2017, The Trump Administration released its objectives for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) day and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) are encouraged to see that the interests of agriculture are an important part of the Administration’s priorities.

“Because NAFTA helped make Mexico one of the most important export markets for U.S. wheat, our main priority right now is to do no harm to wheat trade,” said David Schemm, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and a wheat farmer from Sharon Springs, Kan. “We are happy to see that the objectives call for maintaining existing reciprocal duty-free market access for agricultural goods. Mexican buyers import more of the wheat my neighbors and I grow than any other country and we can’t afford to risk interrupting that positive relationship with our customers.”

“The United States, Canada, and Mexico are all strong advocates of free trade and science-based regulations,” said Mike Miller, chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and a wheat farmer from Ritzville, Wash. “We should go big in this negotiation and agree to align around those gold standard rules. That will ensure that all three countries can’t throw out regulations that are just flimsy excuses to restrict trade.”

Read the NAWG and USW joint release here.

House Committee on Agriculture Hearing Re NAFTA
On July 17, 2017, the House Committee on Agriculture announced a hearing on Renegotiating NAFTA: Opportunities for Agriculture to be held Wednesday, July 26, 2017 at 10:00am.  Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) issued a statement in which he said, “The administration has already outlined key objectives for ag, such as expanding market opportunities and tightening enforcement, and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about opportunities to achieve the best deal possible for American agriculture.”  The hearing can be streamed live here.

U.S. Wheat Organizations Applaud McKinney Nomination for USDA Post
On July 19, 2017, the Trump Administration announced a declaration of intent to nominate Ted McKinney for Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In May, the USDA created the new Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs position, as directed by the 2014 Farm Bill. Read here NAWG’s and USW’s release applauding the Administration’s choice of Ted McKinney for Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

House Committee on Natural Resources Hearing
On Wednesday, July 19 the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on five bills that would amend the Endangered Species Act.  The first panel of witnesses consisted of Representatives to testify on behalf of their own sponsored bills including Dan Newhouse (WA-4) on H.R. 1274, Collin Peterson (MN-7) on H.R. 424, Pete Olson (TX-22) on H.R. 717, Louie Gohmert (TX-1) on H.R. 2603, and Bill Huizenga (MI-2) on H.R.3131.  The second panel of witnesses included Jeff Corwin, a biologist and host of ABC’s Ocean Treks with Jeff Corwin; Glenn Hegar, Comptroller of Public Accounts for the state of Texas; Kent Holsinger, manager of Holsinger Law; Greg Sheehan, Deputy Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and David Willms, policy advisor to the Wyoming Governor Matt Mead.  All panelists asserted that they support the Endangered Species Act, but there are necessary amendments that need to be adopted to increase efficiency and reduce waste.  To learn more about the 5 bills and watch the hearing click here.

Upcoming Census of Agriculture
As the time for the 2017 Census of Agriculture approaches, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is preparing with updates and new features. NASS Census and Survey Division Director Barbara Rater said, “Responding to the census will be easier than ever before in December. It is our hope that producers will become familiar with the online census questionnaire demo this summer, like it, and return to report online when responding to the Census of Agriculture later this year.”  You can find the online census questionnaire demonstration site here or check out the Census of Agriculture website where you can watch videos, explore examples, and access data. The 2017 Agriculture Census which will go live late fall, with an updated online questionnaire accessible on any electronic device.

U.S. Court of Appeals Denies Petition to Ban Pesticide Chlorpyrifos
On July 28, 2017, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court denied a petition by environmental groups to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban the agricultural pesticide chlorpyrifos, reported Reuters. This ended one of three parallel attempts to bring about the ban, court filings show. The environmental groups, including Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council, claimed that the EPA had taken too long to act on the matter.

In response to the court’s decision, Dow AgroSciences’ stated that “The Ninth Circuit Court’s decision to deny further relief supports the long-standing regulatory framework and process. We are pleased that growers will continue to have access to this vital crop protection solution.”

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!