Wheat Leaders Talk Farm, Trade Policy at NAFB’s Trade Talk

November 10, 2011 Bookmark and Share

Grower-leaders of NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates emphasized the necessity of a strong farm safety net and ambitious trade policy for successful farm businesses at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters’ convention this week in Kansas City, Mo.

Interviews with NAWG President Wayne Hurst, who farms near Burley, Idaho, focused on priorities for farm policy as legislators seek to cut $1.5 trillion or more from federal spending, likely necessitating a rewrite of farm bill provisions before the end of the year.

Leaders of the Congressional Agriculture Committees have told the debt-deficit super committee that they believe cuts to agriculture jurisdiction programs should be around $23 billion, but are still working on a proposal for how those cuts should be distributed.

Hurst also talked with broadcasters about the importance of a legislative fix like H.R. 872 for new and duplicative pesticide permitting requirements, which went into effect at the beginning of the month. The new requirements emanated from a 2009 Sixth Circuit Court ruling and could open up producers to enormous liability even if they are following already-strict pesticide-use laws.

Additionally, he praised the recent completion of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea and urged caution on a proposal from broadband company LightSquared, which could authorize use of the electronic spectrum in a way that disables farm GPS systems.

In interviews he did, USW Chairman Randy Suess, who farms near Colfax, Wash., stressed the return on grower and federal investment from export market development.

Suess told broadcasters that the federal government’s minimal investment in promotion activities through the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, combined with producer dollars, produce $115 gross return to the wheat industry for every $1 spent.

USW’s focus in the Nigerian market has led to sales that support average farm gate prices by an estimated 15 cents. A decline of that magnitude in market prices would reduce total farm income from wheat by nearly $300 million this year alone.

Both farm leaders spoke at the Wheat Industry booth at NAFB’s annual Trade Talk event. USW President Alan Tracy, who is headquartered near Washington, D.C., was also on hand for interviews; NAWG CEO Dana Peterson was scheduled to attend but returned to Washington to remain fully engaged in farm bill discussions.

Members of the media who did not make it to the booth during Trade Talk can contact Melissa Kessler, NAWG’s director of communications, at mkessler (at) wheatworld.org, or Steve Mercer, USW’s director of communications, at smercer (at) uswheat.org, to schedule an interview time.