Throughout the August recess, NAWG will issue quick updates on Thursday afternoons in lieu of our regular weekly publications, The Report from Washington and the Weekly Wheat Digest. We hope you find this shorter publication informative and welcome feedback to wheatworld (at) wheatworld.org. Please also join us online at www.twitter.com/wheatworld and www.facebook.com/wheatworld for the latest association, industry and policy news.
Congress Out for Recess Until Sept. 10
Members of Congress left Washington, D.C., last week for a five-week August recess. The traditional extended summer work period allows legislators to meet with constituents, which is all the more important this year ahead of November’s elections. The major political parties will also hold their nominating conventions during the break. Both the House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene on Sept. 10.
President Obama Calls for Passage of New Farm Bill
President Barack Obama spoke out this week on the farm bill debate, calling on Congress to approve new farm and food policy. Speaking publicly at a White House Rural Council meeting, Obama outlined steps being undertaken by the Administration, particularly USDA, to help farmers and ranchers facing drought. He also said plainly that “Congress needs to pass a farm bill” and that new legislation is the “single-best way that we can help rural communities both in the short term and in the long term.” USDA announced on Tuesday an additional $30 million would go toward programs helping producers in drought. More information about the drought and drought assistance is at www.usda.gov/drought. A clip of the President speaking about the farm bill is at http://farmpolicy.com/2012/08/08/president-obama-discusses-drought-response-effort-8-7/.
Summer To-Do for Those Who Farm or Eat: Visit Your Members of Congress
NAWG strongly encourages all farmers and stakeholders to visit with local legislators during the recess period. The Association’s top priority for the rest of the legislative year is completion of a new, five-year 2012 Farm Bill. 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/.
Ag Groups Urge SPS Disciplines in TPP Agreement
NAWG, U.S. Wheat Associates and more than 40 other agricultural groups wrote Obama Administration trade leaders recently, urging the inclusion of effective sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) disciplines in any Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The groups told leaders at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Environmental Protection Agency and Departments of Agriculture, State, Commerce and Health that any market gains from a TPP agreement could be lost without strengthened, science-based SPS rules. The full letter is available at www.wheatworld.org/trade.
Surface Transportation Board Looks at Captive Shipper Relief Proposals
The Surface Transportation Board recently announced two initiatives to explore ways to help protect captive rail shippers from unreasonable rates. One initiative will examine current rules on how rate disputes are resolved and will look to provide a less complicated and less expensive way for shippers to challenge freight rates. The Board will also consider a stakeholder proposal to increase rail-to-rail competition by granting certain shippers located in terminal areas access to a competing railroad, if there is a working interchange within 30 miles. Details about the announcement are at http://www.stb.dot.gov/__85256593004F576F.nsf/0/2C497BDC96F747C085257A460063D398?OpenDocument.
Bayer CropScience to Establish $15 Million Aussie Breeding Center
Bayer CropScience announced this week it plans to establish a new breeding center in Victoria, Australia, to focus on wheat and oilseeds. The company plans to invest nearly $15 million, including 20 new researcher positions, to develop new varieties with higher yields and productivity improvements tailored to Australian conditions. More about the new facility is at http://www.research.bayer.com/en/news-detail.aspx?newsid=19739.
NAWG and USW Meet with Writers at Ag Media Summit
Communications staff from NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates met with members of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association and other groups at the 2012 Ag Media Summit held this week in Albuquerque, N.M. The annual event combines participant organization meetings, professional development sessions and a trade show that allows association and company representatives to meet with agricultural editors, writers, students and farmers. NAWG and USW once again shared a wheat industry booth at the trade show, known as InfoExpo. Updates from the convention are available at www.twitter.com/wheatworld and www.twitter.com/uswheatassoc.
Next USFRA Food Dialogues Set for Nov. 15 in NYC
The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) recently announced its next Food Dialogues event is scheduled for Nov. 15 in New York City. The Food Dialogues series allows the organization and its farmer members to answer questions consumers have about food production through in-person events, social media and other outlets. The New York event will tackle three of the biggest issues in the current food debate: the use of antibiotics for farm animals, biotechnology and food marketing. Members of the public can sign up at http://www.fooddialogues.com/ to receive additional details about the event as they become available.