Both chambers of Congress are out of session for the month of August, during which NAWG is providing only short news updates. Regular news stories will return in September.
Canada’s FTA with Colombia Goes Into Effect
Canada’s free trade agreement with Colombia went into effect this week even as a similar agreement between the United States and Colombia, which was signed in 2006, continues to await action by the Obama Administration and Congress. U.S. Wheat Associates has estimated U.S. wheat producers stand to lose up to $100 million in sales per year without quick passage of the U.S.-Colombia FTA, in large part because of competition from countries with more preferential access, including Argentina and, now, Canada. For more from U.S. Wheat on this week’s development, please visit http://bit.ly/mTUytU.
Obama Heads to Farm Country
President Barack Obama undertook a multi-state bus tour this week that had him meeting multiple times with farmers and rural small business owners. While on the tour, he answered questions related to biofuels, agricultural research and on-farm regulation.
Regarding research and the need to prioritize spending, he said, “We know that we’ve got to invest in basic research; that’s part of what made us the most productive agricultural powerhouse in the world. So we don’t want to cut back agricultural research in order to pay for it; we got to get rid of some things.”
In response to a farmer comment about on-farm regulation, Obama said, “Here’s what I’d suggest is…if you hear something is happening, but it hasn’t happened, don’t always believe what you hear,” later advising the farmer to contact USDA directly.
More on Obama’s key comments, including audio, is available at http://farmpolicy.com/2011/08/18/president%E2%80%99s-rural-tour-biofuels-regulations-farm-bill-and-the-ag-economy/#more-5373.
Farm Bill Hearing Next Week in Kansas
The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee is scheduled to hold a field hearing Thursday, Aug. 25, in Wichita, Kan. The hearing is set to begin at 9 a.m. local time, and it should be webcast live at http://ag.senate.gov. NAWG Director David Schemm will testify at the hearing on behalf of his state association, the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers. The general public is also encouraged to attend and/or submit written comments via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for written testimony from the public is Sept. 1.
Ag Groups Support Nunes’ SPS Bill
NAWG and 45 other agricultural groups wrote Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) this week to express support for H.R. 2707, the Agricultural Trade Facilitation Act. Nunes has introduced the legislation to help establish science-based guidelines for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regulations in future trade agreements. The full letter is available at www.wheatworld.org/trade.
SURE Available for Disasters Prior to Oct. 1
A senior USDA official told a farm group this week that losses that occur before Oct. 1 of this year will qualify for coverage under the SURE disaster assistance program, the Hagstrom Report said Thursday. The SURE program was included in the 2008 Farm Bill as a type of permanent disaster assistance, but the 2008 law sunsets the program at the end of the 2011 fiscal year, on Sept. 30 of this year, to save money in the overall legislation. Farmers should contact their local FSA offices for more information about local impact.
USDA Changes CRP Rule for Drought
USDA announced last week it is modifying rules related to the use of land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to help farmers facing severe drought. The rule changes will affect the time period during which approved emergency grazing can take place and allowable uses of hay harvested from expiring CRP acres. More about the changes is at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/printapp?fileName=nr_20110808_rel_0340.html&newsType=newsrel.
MGEX to Accept Non-U.S. Wheat
MGEX said this week its Board of Directors has unanimously approved removing a requirement that hard red spring (HRS) wheat delivered on its contracts be of U.S. origin. The exchange said the change will allow HRS from outside the U.S. to be delivered to fulfill its contracts, provided the wheat also meets other MGEX specifications. MGEX is the principle HRS exchange in the U.S. More on the announcement is at http://www.mgex.com/documents/MGEXRemovesUSOriginConditionfromHRSWContract_000.pdf.
Gaede Talks Budget with Farm Broadcaster
NAWG Director of Government Affairs for Environmental Policy Mark Gaede talked with Kansas farm broadcaster John Jenkinson Monday about the recent debt deal and the pending “super committee” work to cut more than $1.5 trillion from the federal budget. Hear that interview in full at http://www.wheatworld.org/podcasts/2011/08/gaede-talks-budget-with-john-jenkinson/.
USFRA Announces First Food Dialogues
The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) announced this week it will hold its first public event – “The Food Dialogues” – on Sept. 22, online via webcast and live in Washington, D.C., New York City, Fair Oaks, Ind., and at the University of California-Davis. The town hall discussion will be designed to address the biggest questions consumers have about farming and ranching and the future of food. The coalition said more details will be posted soon at www.USFRAOnline.org.