Congress is out for Presidents Day recess, and NAWG’s staff and grower-leaders are making final preparations for Commodity Classic. Watch our Twitter feed, www.twitter.com/wheatworld, and Facebook page, www.facebook.com/wheatworld, starting Tuesday, Feb. 28, for the latest from Classic.
5,000+ Farmers, Industry Reps Heading to Commodity Classic
Wheat growers from around the country are packing their bags for the 2012 Commodity Classic, which kicks off mid-week at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tenn. The Commodity Classic is the annual convention and trade show for NAWG, the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association and the National Sorghum Producers. NAWG’s meetings at the 2012 Commodity Classic begin Wednesday, Feb. 29, and continue Thursday, March 1. NAWG’s Board meeting will be Saturday, March 3, as will the NAWG Foundation’s. The Classic trade show will open Thursday; a general session will be held Friday morning; and an evening of entertainment at the Grand Ole Opry will cap off official events Saturday. More information is at http://www.wheatworld.org/meetings-events/commodity-classic/.
Second Farm Bill Hearing Will Look at Conservation Issues
The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee is scheduled to hold its second farm bill hearing of the year on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The hearing will focus on conservation issues, with witnesses to include the administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Also testifying will be Dean Stoskopf, a wheat farmer from Hoisington, Kan., and Carl Mattson, a wheat farmer from Chester, Mont., both of whom have strong ties to their state wheat industry organizations. The hearing is planned to start at 10 a.m. D.C. time. It will be streamed live online at http://ag.senate.gov.
House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Looks at FY2013 Proposal
Official consideration of the agriculture portions of the Obama Administration’s FY2013 budget proposal began last Friday with a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee’s agriculture subcommittee. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was the key witness at the hearing. In spite of proposals to eliminate direct payments and cut crop insurance, Vilsack voiced support for a farm safety net, saying, “As the Farm Bill is drafted, I encourage Congress to provide USDA the tools and the flexibility needed to address the challenges faced by American producers.” A schedule of additional hearings on parts of the agriculture budget proposal is available at http://appropriations.house.gov/Issues/Issue/?IssueID=43419. More about the budget proposal is at http://www.wheatworld.org/news-events/2012/02/obamas-fy2013-budget-cuts-direct-payments-crop-insurance/ or http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget.
USTR: Korea FTA to Be Implemented on March 15
The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced this week the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement will go into effect on March 15. The agreement and similar measures with Colombia and Panama were passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in October. Since that time, trade diplomats from the two countries have been working to activate the agreement, a process known formally as “entering into force.” Once in place, the Korea agreement will make nearly 80 percent of U.S. exports to the country – including 2/3 of agricultural exports, like wheat – duty free.
CropLife, Others Request Dismissal of Mega Suit on Crop Protection Products
CropLife America and other intervenors moved this week to dismiss a lawsuit that threatens to restrict farmers’ and public health officials’ access to crop protection products approved under the law. The lawsuit, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January 2011, alleges the government did not follow proper consultation procedures under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under the ESA, EPA is required to complete a consultation process with wildlife agencies in addition to its review under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which itself takes seven to 10 years and considers the effects of new chemistries on wildlife. EPA hasn’t completed a consultation since 1999 and many believe the consultation process is fundamentally flawed. The current lawsuit threatens the existing and long-standing registration of more than 380 chemicals that may impact 214 species in 49 states. The suit asks the court to restrict their use while the consultations occur, even though they have been approved under FIFRA. More from CropLife is at http://www.croplifeamerica.org/news/cla/22212-CropLife-America-Moves-to-Dismiss-Extremist-Endangered-Species-Act-Mega-Lawsuit.
Wheat Quality Council Meeting Attracts Record Participation
The Wheat Quality Council held its annual meeting last week in Kansas City, attracting a record 160 participants including many from state wheat commissions and the private wheat breeding community. At the meeting, Council members performed their annual review of new wheat varieties and discussed key topics within the industry, including a recent decrease in wheat consumption and coming changes to wheat marketing in Canada. The Council also selected new leadership, with Glen Weaver of ConAgra selected as chair. Wheat commissions represented at the meeting included North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Kansas and Colorado. Jane DeMarchi, NAWG’s research and technology director, represented the Association. More from the Council is at http://www.wheatqualitycouncil.org/.
Bayer and Texas A&M Team Up On Wheat Breeding
Bayer CropScience and Texas AgriLife Research, a part of the Texas A&M University System, announced late last week they have signed a multi-year agreement to develop and commercialize improved wheat varieties. The collaboration aims to expedite the delivery of higher yielding wheat varieties to market. Researchers will also focus on regionally-important characteristics such as drought resistance, disease resistance and improved quality. Additionally, the collaboration will focus on the development of molecular breeding tools. Financial details of the collaboration were not released. More on the agreement is at http://agrilife.org/today/2012/02/20/texas-agrilife-research-and-bayer-cropscience/.