Growers Talk Importance of Federal Budget in New Congress

January 21, 2011 Bookmark and Share

Nearly 200 wheat growers, state wheat organization staff and other wheat industry stakeholders gathered in Washington, D.C., this week for the 2011 Wheat Industry Winter Conference. Here’s a recap of key happenings:

Committee Reports

All of NAWG’s standing committees met at the Conference, as did the two joint committees through which NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates work together on the issues of biotechnology and trade. An audio report from each committee’s chairman is available for listening or download online at http://www.wheatworld.org/newsroom/audio-gallery/.

New Resolutions

NAWG’s Board of Directors met Wednesday and approved a number of resolution changes as proposed by policy committees.

New resolutions include:

  • NAWG supports the policy that if federal agriculture programs are subject to budget cuts to achieve deficit reduction, then the same percentage of cut should apply to all federal government programs.
  • NAWG supports multiple safety-net programs in the next farm bill. We recognize different production areas of the country rely on a variety of farm programs to provide a multi-legged safety net.
  • NAWG supports the development of “third generation” crop insurance products whereby input cost volatility or an energy index is incorporated to provide enhanced risk management options for producers. Wider swings in fertilizer and fuel cost may reduce that true value of harvest price insurance calculations.
  • NAWG supports the government maximizing the premium subsidy for the crop insurance program at a 70 percent coverage level.
  • NAWG supports an [Endangered Species Act] consultation process that is based on best available science using empirical sampling that is transparent, quantifiable, and assesses the economic impact to agricultural production.
  • We urge all public universities with wheat breeding programs to adopt the concept behind the Wheat Workers’ Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) being developed by the hard winter wheat region for exchange of germplasm between public breeding programs.

Additionally, the Board approved a block of minor, clarifying amendments to resolutions from the Domestic and Trade Policy Committee.

The Board also adopted changes to its Board Policy document, including the addition of new public relations and media access policies. The new media access policy can be viewed online at http://www.wheatworld.org/meetings-events/media-access-policy/.

Foundation Discussions

The NAWG Foundation Board of Directors met for more than two hours Wednesday morning, focusing discussions on ongoing work to flesh out a new strategic direction for the organization.

Three task forces – focusing on governance, fundraising and the future of the NAWG Foundation’s building on Capitol Hill, in which NAWG is housed – have been working since the Board’s last meeting in October and met again at this week’s sessions.

The members of these task forces reported their findings and planned tasks before the Board’s next meeting at Commodity Classic. At that meeting, it is hoped the Board will consider a final plan to guide the Foundation’s activities in the next three to five years.

Colombian Ambassador

The NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates Joint International Trade Policy Committee heard about the importance of a long-pending free trade agreement with Colombia directly from the Colombian Ambassador, Gabriel Silva, at the group’s Tuesday meeting. Silva emphasized that time is short to get the agreement with his country complete before the U.S. agricultural economy suffers real consequences of lowered market share there. For Silva’s presentation, go to www.wheatworld.org/trade.

Hill Visits

Wheat growers and state organization staff in town for this week’s meetings also spent time on Capitol Hill visiting their Members of Congress.

Growers took part in an estimated 100 meetings throughout the week, focusing on local issues and national priorities including the federal budget, research funding, trade and Environmental Protection Act regulation.

For more on the messages carried to the Hill this week, see NAWG’s latest policy briefer at http://www.wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/issues-january-2011-nawg-policy-briefer-20110120.pdf.

Wheat Awards

NAWG announced recipients of its three wheat awards this week. The 2010 Wheat Leader of the Year Award was given to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). A staff member accepted the award on her behalf at a dinner held Tuesday night, where other awards were also presented and both House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) spoke to the crowd. For more, go to http://www.wheatworld.org/news-events/2011/01/nawg-names-washington%E2%80%99s-murray-2010-wheat-leader-of-the-year/.

WOLF Program

The 2011 Wheat Organization Leaders of the Future (WOLF) program was held Saturday and Sunday preceding the official start of the NAWG and U.S. Wheat meetings.

WOLF sessions focused on advocacy and communications training, with a special emphasis on new media tools like Facebook and Twitter. Sessions also included an orientation to service on the NAWG Board.

WOLF is an annual program put on by the NAWG Foundation and sponsored by Bayer CropScience. More about the 2011 WOLF program is at http://www.wheatworld.org/news-events/2011/01/2011-wolf-class-to-focus-on-board-service-communications/.

Photos

Photos from this week’s events are available on U.S. Wheat Associates’ Flickr stream, accessible at http://www.flickr.com/photos/uswheat/.