Congress is back on recess until mid-November. Quick editions will replace NAWG’s regular publications until then unless news warrants more in-depth coverage. The most up-to-date information from NAWG is always available online at www.twitter.com/wheatworld.
2008 Farm Bill to Expire on Sunday After Congressional Inaction
The slogan “Farm Bill Now” is rapidly turning into “Farm Bill…..Now What?” as the 2008 Farm Bill is set to expire on Sunday with no replacement legislation. Congress recessed last weekend until after the November elections, leaving an anticipated lame duck session as the next possible time for work on a five-year farm bill. However, what comes out of that work period will depend heavily on election results.
If a full farm bill reauthorization is not completed before the end of the year, legislators could be faced with dramatically fewer dollars in the bill’s baseline, which will be updated in January and again in March. The only other farm bill to be enacted in a lame duck session was the 1990 bill, and it is unprecedented for a farm bill to be reintroduced in a new Congress after failing to achieve passage in a previous Congress.
NAWG will continue to work with Members of Congress and stakeholder organizations toward passage of a five-year, comprehensive bill before the end of the Congressional session. More on farm bill possibilities and impact is at www.wheatworld.org.
Communication with Congress More Vital Than Ever
With Congress out on recess again until after the election, more grassroots action is needed to urge work on a five-year farm bill before the end of the year. Tell your Members of Congress that you want a farm bill by calling, through social media or at www.farmbillnow.com. Many House Members will be easily accessible in their districts over the next few months, which will also provide opportunities for interaction. A large showing of grassroots support is necessary to achieve a new farm bill! More about the farm bill process, what could happen next and NAWG’s farm bill work is at http://www.wheatworld.org/newsroom/latest-news/.
Senate Approves Six-Month Continuing Resolution, Congress Heads Home
The Senate approved a six-month continuing resolution on Sept. 22, allowing Congress to leave for a seven-week recess ahead of the November elections. The final vote on the bill was 62 to 30; the House approved it the week prior by a 321 to 91 vote. The measure held most programs at existing funding levels though it did make cuts to farm bill conservation programs. The funding bill pushes off final FY2013 spending decisions until after a new Congress is in place. It did not deal with either upcoming sequestration cuts or planned tax cut expirations.
Budget Bright Spot (For Now): Scab Initiative Funding Partially Restored
The wheat industry received rare positive budget news last week when the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative (USWBSI) informed researchers that 66 percent of the funding cuts from the Initiative’s FY2012 budget are being restored. Universities receiving funding through the initiative include North Dakota State University, University of Minnesota, Kansas State University, Virginia Tech and University of Kentucky.
As reported in March, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) sought to close an estimated $40 million budget shortfall tied to the closure of 12 labs by cutting funding for extramural supported research and in-house programs and by restricting hiring. The original cut to USWBSI from this effort was around 30 percent of FY2012 funds, or $1.464 million. ARS is returning $965,000 to the USWBSI so that total funding for FY2012 for the USWBSI will be $4.53 million. All FY2012 USWBSI ongoing projects that were part of an extramural agreement between ARS and state universities will be fully funded. Many new projects that were priorities for the initiative will also now be able to be funded.
Since many of the costs associated with the Congressionally-mandated closures were not incurred this fiscal year, complete closing costs still need to be covered in subsequent fiscal years. That plus looming sequestration budget cuts could impact both ARS research programs and extramural funding in FY2013 and future years.
North Dakota State University and Monsanto Announce Wheat Breeding Collaboration
North Dakota State University (NDSU) and Monsanto announced last week they are forming a collaboration to improve their hard red spring (HRS) wheat breeding programs. The project will aim to develop new breeding and genetic tools to improve breeding efficiencies and provide improved varieties to North Dakota growers. NDSU and Monsanto said the collaboration follows the principles for public-private partnerships developed by the NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates Joint Biotechnology Committee. More is available at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/news.
Friday Seminar on the Hill to Tackle Food Needs Over the Next 40 Years
A Capitol Hill lunch seminar on Friday will tackle the huge and looming question of how the world’s farmers will feed the projected 9.6 billion people expected to be on earth in the next 40 years. The seminar will highlight the important role agricultural research can have in solving future problems and encourage a sustainable, realistic approach to feeding the rapidly expanding population. The scheduled speaker is Dr. Robert Thompson, a visiting scholar from Johns Hopkins University’s international school. The event is being sponsored by the National Coalition for Food & Agricultural Research (NC-FAR) and the Alliance to Feed the Future; NAWG is a member of both groups. The session will start at noon in 1302 Longworth House Office Building, with lunch served for those participating. More information is at http://www.ncfar.org/Hill_Seminar_Series_2012.asp.
Extra Credit: Treat Your Wheat…With the Respect It Deserves in Your Diet
Each week, NAWG staff members read dozens of articles that hit the nail on the head or make us consider an issue in a way we hadn’t previously. Some are particularly worth sharing, so we’re starting an occasional feature where we offer curated recommendations. We’ll call it “extra credit” for our loyal readers who want a bit more. This week, NAWG recommends “Treat Your Wheat…With the Respect It Deserves in Your Diet,” which was included in the Sept. 13, 2012, edition of Wheat Letter, published by our sister association, U.S. Wheat Associates. The article takes on claims that wheat is less-than-nutritious and explores the importance of the vital grain to our bodies and our history. This story is available in full at http://www.uswheat.org/newsEvents/newsRelease/doc/79BEF06A6598DB6585257A8600571F94?OpenDocument.