After a hectic beginning to the farm bill process in Washington, NAWG staff members are preparing to join their families and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday. Note that NAWG’s offices will be closed Thursday, Nov. 24, and Friday, Nov. 25, in observance of the holiday.
NAWG’s leadership and staff wish all readers a peaceful and safe holiday filled with the abundance American farmers provide us all.
Super Committee Folds, Ending Attempt at Farm Bill Rewrite
Leaders of the debt-deficit super committee said Monday their panel has failed to agree to more than $1 t
rillion in deficit reduction measures and would not be making a recommendation to Congress. This means the efforts to craft a farm policy proposal to be included in a super committee recommendation have also ceased, confirmed by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) on Monday afternoon.
Under the law passed this summer to raise the debt ceiling and establish the super committee, its failure will trigger automatic cuts through a process known as sequestration. Cuts will begin in early 2013 and take an estimated 8 percent from federal budgets, with a significant portion coming from defense spending and none coming from a still-undetermined list of programs. President Barack Obama said Monday he would veto any attempt to reduce the planned cuts or exempt additional programs or departments, like the Department of Defense.
A regular order rewrite of the 2008 Farm Bill, which expires Sept. 30, 2012, will likely begin late this year or early next, though the process remains unclear and will likely depend in part on the effects of sequestration-required cuts to farm bill programs.
Minibus Incorporating FY2012 Ag Funding Finalized
A “minibus” appropriations bill incorporating FY2012 agriculture program spending was finalized and signed into law late last week. The Senate voted 70 to 30 late Thursday to approve the measure, which also included funding for transportation, housing, commerce, science and justice programs as well as a continuing resolution for other programs until Dec. 16. President Barack Obama signed the bill Friday. A summary of relevant agriculture allocations was available in last week’s newsletter or at http://www.wheatworld.org/news-events/2011/11/conference-report-passes-house-with-ag-approps-short-term-cr/.
Biotech Sugarbeet Comment Period Open Until Dec. 13
USDA is accepting comments on a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for biotech sugarbeets until Dec. 13. The biotech crop, known commercially as Genuity Roundup Ready Sugarbeets and scientifically as Glyphosate-Tolerant H7-1 sugar beets, was first deregulated in 2005. USDA has undertaken the EIS in response to an August 2010 court ruling banning the planting and sale of the crop on administrative grounds. Farmers were allowed to plant the crop this year with certain restrictions and pending USDA’s current review. NAWG supports full deregulation of the crop to allow farmers choice and certainty in their planting decisions. More information about this issue and instructions for commenting are at www.supportsugarbeets.com.
Gaede Talks Biotech at Adaptation Workshop
NAWG Director of Government Affairs for Environmental Policy Mark Gaede emphasized the importance of wheat biotechnology at an agriculture and adaptation workshop held last Friday. The event was sponsored by USDA, the Bipartisan Policy Center and Farmers Feeding the World. Gaede spoke on a panel focusing on farming and food security in the face of increasing production challenges. He emphasized the wheat industry’s support for biotechnology to help wheat farmers continue to increase yields while using fewer resources and facing unpredictable weather events.
Hexima Announces Licensing Agreement with Monsanto
Hexima Limited announced Tuesday it has signed a research license and commercial agreement with Monsanto related to its anti-fungal protein technology in wheat. The company said the research is still “early” but shows potential for helping wheat growers combat fungal disease, which is a major source of yield loss for major food crops. Financial details were not disclosed. The full announcement is at http://www.hexima.com.au/pdf_files/announcements/Monsanto-Wheat_1111.pdf.
Thanksgiving Costs Up 13 Percent; Still Less Than $5 Per Person
The retail cost of menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner increased about 13 percent this year, according to an annual, informal survey done by the American Farm Bureau Federation. The organization’s annual price survey found the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 at $49.20, a $5.73 price increase from last year’s average of $43.47. While the dinner of eight dishes has gone up, the total price is still less than $5 per person served – a testament to the affordability of food in the United States. More information about the survey and some recipes for Thanksgiving classics are at http://www.fb.org/index.php?action=newsroom.news&year=2011&file=nr1110.html.
Hurst to Be Featured on AgDay’s “Harvest of Thanks”
NAWG President Wayne Hurst, who farms with his family in Idaho, will be featured with other growers in this week’s “Harvest of Thanks” segments on AgDay and the U.S. Farm Report. The special presentation will air on Thursday’s edition of AgDay and as part of the U.S. Farm Report on Saturday and Sunday. Both shows air on RFD-TV. A list of stations airing AgDay is at http://www.agweb.com/agday/agday_stations.aspx. A list of stations airing the U.S. Farm Report is at http://www.agweb.com/usfr/stations.aspx.