Most of NAWG’s staff and grower-leadership was in Scottsdale, Ariz., this week for the 2011 Fall Wheat Conference. In light of this, we are offering only this short update today; full news updates will return next week.
No Ag Committee Leadership Proposal Yet
As of press time Thursday, Congressional Agriculture Committee leaders continued to negotiate their legislative proposal for $23 billion in cuts to programs within their jurisdiction. The Ag Committee leaders had said they would present a proposal by Nov. 1 to outline how the cuts they recommended to the debt-deficit super committee should be distributed – and what changes would be necessitated in farm programs to allow for the reductions. Word from the Hill this week is that negotiations are ongoing but challenging considering the magnitude of the needed changes.
Last week, NAWG sent a letter to the Ag Committee principals in both chambers outlining the Association’s farm policy priorities for the super committee and farm bill processes. That letter is at http://www.wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/farmbill-letter-on-ag-policy-deficit-reduction-20111025.pdf.
H.R. 872 Moves Fail; New Permitting Goes Into Effect
An Oct. 31 deadline for action to prevent duplicative and ambiguous pesticide permitting regulations came and went without Senate action on a legislative proposal to clarify the requirements. The new regulations emanate from a 2009 ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court, which said for the first time that pesticide applications require a Clean Water Act permit in addition to compliance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
NAWG and coalition partners continue to urge quick passage of H.R. 872 or another legislative solution to delay or eliminate the new requirements, particularly in light of the lack of legal clarity around in what situations the new permits are needed. The NAWG Board reiterated its support of such an approach at its meeting on Wednesday.
Senate Approves Ag Appropriations Bill
The Senate approved its version of the fiscal year 2012 agriculture appropriations bill this week. The measure was incorporated into what has become known as a “minibus” – a combination of multiple appropriations bills that is supposed to move through the Senate process more quickly than a full omnibus that incorporates all 12 regular bills.
In general, the Senate-passed agriculture bill cut programs less than the House bill, which was draconian in some of its provisions. Agriculture research, conservation and food aid programs all fared better under the Senate bill, while trade promotion programs including the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program were at authorized levels in both bills. NAWG will work with Congressional leaders and coalition partners as the bill’s conference begins to ensure any cuts to key programs don’t undermine their functioning.
USDA Announces Celebrations for 150th Anniversary
USDA began celebrating its 150th anniversary year this week, prepping for celebrations throughout 2012 that Secretary Tom Vilsack hopes will educate Americans about the Department’s important role. USDA launched a 150th anniversary microsite following a celebration announcement by Vilsack at the Old Illinois State Capitol, located in the hometown of President Abraham Lincoln, who signed legislation establishing USDA in 1862. The Department will formally launch its commemoration activities in February at its annual Agricultural Outlook Forum. To join the celebration, visit www.usda.gov/usda150.
Fall Wheat Conference Brings Growers Together
NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates leaders gathered for the 2011 Fall Wheat Conference this week in Scottsdale, Ariz. The conference included fall committee and Board meetings for both organizations, as well as meetings of the two organizations’ joint committees on trade and biotechnology policy.
More about the outcomes from the NAWG meetings will be available in future editions of the Report. Information about the happenings is already accessible on the NAWG and USW Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, and an audio report from each NAWG committee chairman is available on NAWG’s website at www.wheatworld.org/audio.
NAWG, USW Coming to NAFB’s Trade Talk
NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates will be together in booth 27 at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters’ Trade Talk interview fair, scheduled for next Thursday, Nov. 10. Wheat leaders on hand for interviews will be NAWG President Wayne Hurst, a wheat farmer from Idaho; NAWG Chief Executive Officer Dana Peterson; USW Chairman Randy Suess, a wheat farmer from Washington; and USW President Alan Tracy.
NAWG Communications Director Melissa George Kessler and USW Communications Director Steve Mercer will also be at the event to help arrange interviews. If you are a member of the media interested in setting an interview time, please contact Kessler or Mercer at mkessler (at) wheatworld.org or smercer (at) uswheat.org.