Congress is still out of session, but the news hasn’t stopped. Please enjoy this quick update in lieu of our regular publications. The full The Report from Washington and the Weekly Wheat Digest will return on Sept. 13.
Have You Talked With Your Member?
NAWG strongly encourages all farmers and stakeholders to visit with Members of Congress throughout August recess and urge them to pass a new, five-year farm bill this year. Additional information is available from state wheat grower associations or from NAWG online at http://www.wheatworld.org/news-events/2012/08/congress-goes-on-august-recess-without-farm-bill-or-a-plan/.
Romney Announces Rep. Paul Ryan for VP Slot
Budget hawk Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate, the candidate announced publicly over the weekend. Ryan is from an agriculture state but has worked over the years to deeply cut federal budgets, including farm programs and nutrition spending. Most immediately, Ryan’s selection appears to have further politicized the pending farm bill reauthorization, a process that has typically avoided overt partisanship. On Wednesday, the Romney/Ryan campaign announced their farmer and rancher outreach team, listed in full at http://www.mittromney.com/news/press/2012/08/mitt-romney-announces-farmers-and-ranchers-romney-coalition0.
Drought Taking A Toll on Mississippi River Water Levels
The current drought sweeping across the nation has started to take its toll on the Mississippi River, a major grain transportation route that has water levels reaching near-historic lows. To continue shipping goods on the water, barge companies have been forced to decrease their cargo load by about 25 percent in order to lose enough weight not to run aground, which has happened more than 20 times already this year. The river ships about $180 billion worth of goods on barges annually, including 60 percent of the nation’s grain, according to the American Waterways Operators. One barge carries about the same volume of goods as 60 trucks. Economists are forecasting an increase in prices for goods that are shipped on the Mississippi due to decreased traffic and payloads
MF Global Execs Likely Won’t Face Criminal Charges
Executives from MF Global will likely not face criminal charges stemming from the investigation into the company’s bankruptcy, despite having lost more than $1 billion in customer funds. News reports out this week indicate that after 10 months of investigations, authorities are convinced that it was chaos and poor risk controls that caused the loss of protected funds, not fraud. However, MF Global is still facing legal action as bankruptcy trustee James Giddens has agreed to assist lawyers in suits against former chief executive Jon Corzine for failure to take proper care of customer’s money. In addition, regulators may still file civil enforcement actions, which could potentially cost Corzine millions of dollars and ban him from working on Wall Street in the future.
RFS Impact Analysis Mixed, as Governors Request a Waiver
A report on the possible effects of a renewable fuels standard (RFS) waiver out from Purdue University this week was a mixed bag, showing a range of possible – and unpredictable – impacts on grain prices, depending on oil prices and other factors. The study and a similar one from the University of Illinois come as the governors of North Carolina, Arkansas, Maryland and Delaware have asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to waive RFS requirements, requests that will prompt an Agency review of the mandate under current law. NAWG supports the existing RFS and similar policies to expand the use of conventional ethanol and cellulosic ethanol, the latter of which could be produced in some regions using wheat straw and biomass.
Blue Dog Cardoza Retires from Congress Effective This Week
Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) retired from Congress this week, effective Wednesday evening. Cardoza had previously announced he would not run again for family-related reasons, but his immediate departure was not expected. Cardoza served on the House Agriculture Committee and was one of few remaining moderate Blue Dog Democrats, many of whom have chosen not to run again or who have lost primary fights this year. Estimates are that just 20 to 25 Blue Dogs might remain in the next Congress, down from 54 in 2008.
USW: WASDE Slashes Corn Production, Wheat Supplies Remain Strong
U.S. Wheat Associates analysis out Thursday concluded that while the latest edition of USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), released Aug. 10, slashed world corn projection estimates by 6 percent, wheat supplies remain strong. USW Market Analyst Casey Chumrau wrote that USDA’s estimate of U.S. wheat production increased 1.2 MMT to 61.7 MMT, the highest estimate of the marketing year to date and 14 percent greater than 2011/2012. With total U.S. wheat supply of 85.4 MMT, more than 6 percent greater than the five-year average, the United States is prepared to respond to market needs. USDA currently expects the United States to meet nearly 25 percent of global wheat demand with exports of 32.7 MMT. The full analysis is available in the Aug. 16 Wheat Letter at http://www.uswheat.org/newsEvents/wheatLetter.
New Ag-Based Curricula Available From The Alliance to Feed the Future
New and free curricula incorporating facts about agricultural production and farmers are now available through the Alliance to Feed the Future. “Lunchbox Lessons: The Journey from Farm to Fork” is appropriate for classes from kindergarten to eighth grade and also addresses the basics of food safety, healthful eating, physical activity and energy balance. The downloadable curricula include 15 grade-specific lesson plans, an eight-panel color classroom poster and five parent take-home pieces, including Spanish translation. The Education Center of Greensboro, N.C., with support from Farm Credit, developed the plans to conform to core skills requirements including Common Core State Standards. The Alliance is a coalition of 105 groups, including NAWG, working to coordinate outreach and communication efforts. The lesson plans and more are at http://www.alliancetofeedthefuture.org/new/FarmtoForkResources/ForEducators.aspx.