Wheat researchers, growers, millers and bakers met with more than 60 Hill offices and USDA this week as part of the annual NAWG and National Wheat Improvement Committee (NWIC) fly-in.
The event is held each year in association with the NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates winter meetings in Washington, and aims to educate policymakers and their staff members about the importance of continued wheat research and funding needs for top industry priorities.
A dozen wheat researchers from around the country, more than 20 growers and representatives from the milling and baking industries participated in the visits.
All the meetings included information about the importance of the wheat crop to food security and our nation’s economy and focused appropriations requests on three key research priorities – combating Ug99 and other rusts; increasing insect resistance; and improving wheat’s milling and baking qualities.
Dr. Jim Peterson, the chairman of NWIC and a wheat breeder at Oregon State University, said the meetings gave the industry a chance to express appreciation for increased Ug99 research support in the FY2009 and FY2010 appropriations cycles and to remind stakeholders that there’s still much to be done.
“Much of what we’re trying to do is go after research for core programs that have been historically important for us,” Peterson said.
“In spite of how tight the budgets are, there seems to be a good understanding that the wheat industry is more complex than just Ug99 and that we’re going to need support for core programs.”
Peterson also said much of the value of these meetings comes from the fact that they represent a coordinated, industry-wide effort.
“There does seem to be an awareness that these programs are valuable, and that effort to raise awareness is as much as part of the meetings as the effort to raise money.”
More information about wheat research priorities is available online at www.wheatworld.org.
Additionally, NWIC has state-specific information to facilitate appropriations requests coming from wheat state associations. Those details are available online at http://cropandsoil.oregonstate.edu/wheat/reports/NWIC/.