Special Friday Update on Classic, Hill Activities

March 4, 2011 Bookmark and Share

From Commodity Classic (Tampa, Fla.) – There will be no NAWG newsletter this week due to activities at the 2011 Commodity Classic. Classic updates on Friday’s activities include:

  • Larry Elworth, agriculture counselor to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, spoke at a NAWG Foundation-sponsored learning center session. A lengthy audio update from him is available to growers and media at www.wheatworld.org/audio.
  • NAWG President Jerry McReynolds took part in the Classic General Session. Video of McReynolds’ talk is at www.youtube.com/wheatworld.
  • The General Session also featured House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. NAWG covered Lucas’ and Vilsack’s talks on Twitter at www.twitter.com/wheatworld.

To get all the latest news from Classic, please visit www.wheatworld.org/2011Classic. You can also follow us at www.twitter.com/wheatworld and see pictures from Classic events at www.facebook.com/wheatworld.

Audio updates from each day of the convention and each NAWG policy committee meetings are also available at www.wheatworld.org/audio.

Though we’ve been out of town, Capitol Hill has been hopping this week. Here are a few items of particular note for wheat growers; as necessary, these will be covered in more depth in future editions:

FY2011 Budget/Continuing Resolution: Both the House and Senate have approved a two-week continuing resolution, avoiding a government shutdown this weekend. The CR included $4 billion in cuts and lasts until March 18. The new CR should allow some time for negotiations on a longer-term FY2011 spending plan; top Congressional leaders and Vice President Joe Biden met Thursday to continue negotiations.

NPDES Permitting: With just a few short weeks to find a solution to drastic new pesticide application permitting requirements, Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) went into action this week. As anticipated, a bill, H.R. 872, was introduced to clarify that if a pesticide user is following the existing FIFRA label requirements, no other permitting is needed.

Also, following a request on Wednesday by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the EPA requested on Thursday an extension of the implementation deadline for the new requirements. While Stabenow suggested the Agency request a nine-month extension, EPA requested a six-month extension. Still, this would add extra time to allow Congress to pursue a legislative solution.

Rail Bill: The Senate Judiciary Committee approved by a 14 to 1 vote S. 49, the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2011. This bill would effectively remove an antitrust exemption railroads currently enjoy, empowering the Federal Trade Commission to regulate, and engage in antitrust enforcement regarding, collective rate agreements and some railroad transactions. NAWG is highly supportive of the legislation and will continue to follow it closely.

1099 Issue: The House voted 314-112 on Thursday to repeal new requirements for 1099 reporting passed in recent health care legislation. Though the new requirements are widely opposed, including by NAWG, multiple attempts to repeal them have failed. The House and Senate versions use different offsets to pay for the repeal, and a conference agreement will be needed before a final repeal can be sent to President Barack Obama for consideration.

Mexican Trucking Dispute: President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced a tentative deal to solve an ongoing dispute over Mexican trucks on U.S. roads. The conflict arose when Congress cut off funding in the 2009 omnibus spending bill for a trucking pilot program that had permitted a limited number of Mexican carriers into the U.S., which is required under NAFTA. In response, Mexico implemented tariffs on nearly 100 products. Wheat has not been a targeted product, but NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates have been actively engaged in efforts push a conclusion to the issue.

FY2011 Budget: Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack testified before the House Appropriations Committee’s Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies subcommittee on the FY2012 budget. His testimony is available here.