Upwards of 5,500 wheat, corn, soybean and sorghum growers are in Nashville, Tenn., through the weekend for the 2012 Commodity Classic. Since we are busy with meetings, receptions, educational sessions and a rockin’ trade show booth, we offer you a quick update this week. The full newsletter will return next Thursday, March 8.
2012 Commodity Classic In Full Swing
The 2012 Commodity Classic is in full swing in Nashville, Tenn. NAWG’s farm and trade, environmental and research policy committees met Wednesday. The Wheat Industry Booth in the Classic trade show opened Thursday. Classic’s general session is scheduled for Friday, as well as an educational session with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agriculture counselor Larry Elworth, sponsored by the NAWG Foundation. NAWG’s Board of Directors and the NAWG Foundation’s Board of Directors are scheduled to meet Saturday. For details, visit http://www.wheatworld.org/2012classic/.
Congressional Farm Bill Timeline Speeds Up
The effort to reauthorize the 2008 Farm Bill before it expires on Sept. 30 kicked into high gear this week, with the Senate Agriculture Committee moving up two previously-scheduled farm bill hearings, and the House Agriculture Committee announcing it will start a series of four field hearings next week. Senate Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) announced early in the week that scheduled hearings on nutrition and farm policy issues will be moved up, to March 7 and March 14, respectively. House Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) announced Thursday that field hearings will be held in New York, Illinois, Arkansas and Kansas. More on the House schedule is at http://agriculture.house.gov/.
Wheat Farmers Testify on Conservation Programs
Two farmers with ties to the wheat industry testified Tuesday at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on conservation issues. Dean Stoskopf, a farmer near Hoisington, Kan., asked Members to keep conservation programs simple and local. He also spoke about the importance of emergency haying and grazing in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), as well as the benefits of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Carl Mattson, who farms near Chester, Mont., spoke about his and other local farmers’ experiences with the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). More on the hearing is at http://www.ag.senate.gov/hearings/strengthening-conservation-through-the-2012-farm-bill.
Surface Transportation Bill Still Delayed
The House version of pending surface transportation legislation hit another snag this week as Republican caucus members continue to balk at their leadership’s plans for the measure. Floor consideration has been pushed back for a two-year extension of surface transportation law, which largely funds highway construction but also touches many other aspects of U.S. transportation infrastructure. Senators continue to debate their version of the bill, S. 1813. Reauthorization of the law has been delayed since 2009 for political and budgetary reasons.
Kirk Calls for TPA at Ways and Means Hearing on Trade Agenda
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told Members of the House Ways and Means Committee Wednesday that the Obama Administration needs a renewal of trade promotion authority (TPA) to complete the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks. TPA, which expired in 2007, gives the Administration the authority to negotiate trade agreements and submit them to Congress for up-or-down votes. Kirk said the Obama Administration aims to get the TPP negotiations finished this year. For more from the hearing at which Kirk testified, visit http://waysandmeans.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=281489.
House Ag Focuses on CFTC Work on MF Global, Dodd-Frank
The House Agriculture Committee met Wednesday to hear from Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Gary Gensler about his agency’s 2012 agenda. Members focused on the ongoing investigation into MF Global’s bankruptcy and resultant customer losses. They also asked about the Dodd-Frank rule making process, which continues to create significant uncertainty for some in farm country. More from the hearing is online at http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/hearingDetails.aspx?NewsID=1533.
Senate Ag Leaders Ask for Guidance on MF Global Tax Problems
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) have asked the Internal Revenue Service to provide guidance for former MF Global customers who may need to file their taxes with incomplete information. MF Global filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31, 2011, with upwards of $1 billion in customer money unaccounted for. Stabenow and Roberts asked for consideration specifically of farmers and ranchers with money in limbo, many of whom will soon start spring fieldwork. The full letter text is accessible at http://www.ag.senate.gov/newsroom/majority-news.
DuPont and Australian Research Org Announce New Wheat Collaboration
DuPont and the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) announced this week that they have expanded an existing research collaboration on wheat and other crops. The organizations said they will focus on molecular markers, discovery research for agronomic traits and hybrid seed production in wheat. The research will work toward traits to address drought tolerance and nitrogen-use efficiency. More about the partnership is at http://www.pioneer.com/home/site/about/news-media.
BASF, NAWG Foundation Establish Scholarship to Honor Jerry Minore
The NAWG Foundation and BASF announced Wednesday they will establish a scholarship fund to honor longtime wheat industry friend and BASF employee Jerry Minore. Minore was a liaison to the wheat industry, including NAWG and the Foundation, and an advocate for wheat growers. He passed away unexpectedly in February. BASF will fund a Jerry Minore Memorial Scholarship of up to $5,000 per year for the next three years. Application information will be available later in the year from the Foundation. More about the scholarship is at http://www.wheatworld.org/news-events/2012/02/basf-nawg-foundation-establish-minore-scholarship/.