Congress is out of session, but that doesn’t mean the action has stopped at NAWG or in Washington, D.C. Here’s a quick update on issues important to farmers!
Congress Out for Spring Recess Until April 16
The House of Representatives and the Senate are adjourned until April 16 for a spring recess over the Passover and Easter holidays. NAWG encourages farmers to meet with their Members of Congress over the break to discuss priorities, including the farm bill reauthorization process.
Ryan Budget Passed; Reconciliation Coming For House Agriculture
Before leaving Washington for a spring recess, the House approved on a 228 to 191 vote a budget resolution presented by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The resolution included significant cuts for agriculture programs, targeting about $30 billion out of farm bill spending. The resolution also included budget reconciliation instructions for six House Committees, including the Agriculture Committee. This obligates them to find mandated cuts – $33.2 billion for the Agriculture Committee – before April 27. Deep cuts outlined in the House budget and the reconciliation requirements are expected to complicate efforts to compromise with Senate appropriators and finalize spending bills before FY2013 begins on Oct. 1.
Senate Ag Could Mark Up Soon After Recess
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) confirmed to agriculture media last week that her panel is planning a mark-up of farm bill legislation soon after the end of recess on April 16. A firm date has not yet been announced.
House Continues Series of Farm Bill Field Hearings
Members of the House Agriculture Committee continue their series of farm bill field hearings, holding the third of four scheduled last week in Arkansas. At the hearings, Members are receiving testimony from farmers about cropping practices and farm policy priorities. Testimony from the hearings is at http://agriculture.house.gov/singlepages.aspx?NewsID=1227&LSBID=1271.
Legislation Introduced to Create Foundation for Food and Ag Research
A new piece of legislation in the Senate would establish a Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501(c)3, non-profit organization meant to foster public-private partnerships within the agricultural research community, including USDA research agencies, academia, private corporations and non-profit organizations. Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) introduced the bill late last week. The Foundation concept builds on existing models for Congressionally-mandated foundations focused on medical research, natural resources and other priorities, and is seen as a way to increase funds going to agriculture research in a time of declining public funding but increasing food needs. NAWG and a number of state wheat associations signed onto a recent letter voicing support for the bill, available at http://roberts.senate.gov/public/_pdf/FFAR%20Support%20Letter%20Final.pdf.
Limagrain Establishes Wheat Quality Lab at Colorado Headquarters
Limagrain Cereal Seeds recently announced it has opened a wheat quality laboratory at its U.S. headquarters in Fort Collins, Colo. Researchers at the lab will test select wheat varieties from across the U.S. for baking characteristics using state-of-the-art equipment including a machine that measures single kernel hardness and a near-infrared reflectance spectroscope. More about the new lab is at http://limagraincerealseeds.com/news-events. More about investments into wheat research by private companies is at http://www.wheatworld.org/research/wheat-research-community/private-investors/.
USW Market Analysis: Spring Came Early, But Crop Looks Good
Spring has sprung early in many parts of the country, prompting wheat to mature faster than usual and some fears of a late freeze that could damage the crop. U.S. Wheat Associates’ Market Analyst Casey Chumrau addressed crop conditions in last week’s edition of USW’s Wheat Letter. Her analysis is available at http://www.uswheat.org/newsEvents/wheatLetter/doc/B160E25A0FCE6631852579D0006BDFDA?OpenDocument.
National Wheat Foundation Board Holds Second Meeting
The new National Wheat Foundation Board of Directors held its second in-person meeting this week in Kansas City, Mo. The Board focused on organizing itself and reviewing the existing state of the organization. The Board reviewed new governance documents for the Foundation, board policies, the Foundation’s budget and ongoing fundraising and programmatic work. The group also established a number of committees and elected officers for the coming year. The new Board members were seated at the 2012 Commodity Classic; more background on the Board and the Foundation is at http://www.wheatworld.org/news-events/2012/03/national-wheat-foundation-board-seated-at-commodity-classic/.
NAWG State Executives’ Training Focused on Membership, Crisis Communications
NAWG state executives talked membership and coordinated crisis communications at training held last Saturday. Staff leaders and communicators from 11 NAWG states participated in the day-long session, which aimed to provide them with skills and tools that can be used within their local associations and to help bolster communications across the industry. State executives’ training is held every other year, sponsored by the National Wheat Foundation and Syngenta.