We hope you find this quick update useful. Congress and the complete editions of our regular publications will return next week.
Wheat Farmers Coming to D.C. for Farm Bill Now Rally, Meetings
Wheat farmers and NAWG members will join hundreds of other farmers from around the country next week for a Farm Bill Now coalition rally on the Capitol grounds. Leaders from major farm and commodity groups, rural development, livestock, conservation and energy organizations will be on hand to energize the crowd before Hill meetings to urge passage of a five-year farm bill during September. Members of Congress have also been invited. NAWG First Vice President Bing Von Bergen, Second Vice President Paul Penner and Secretary-Treasurer Brett Blankenship are coming to Washington for the event and related Hill meetings, joined by half a dozen additional representatives from NAWG-affiliated state associations. The rally will begin at 11 a.m. at Union Square in front of the Capitol, between the Capitol Reflecting Pool and 3rd Street. NAWG will provide updates from the event online at www.twitter.com/wheatworld and www.facebook.com/wheatworld.
Media Encouraged to Cover Farm Bill Now Rally
Members of the media are encouraged to cover the Farm Bill Now rally scheduled for next Tuesday in Washington. The primary media contact for rally logistics and audio/video access is Dan McEvily, National Farmers Union communications coordinator, at dmcevily (at) nfudc.org or 202-314-3104. Members of the media wishing to speak to wheat farmers or about NAWG’s Farm Bill Now efforts can contact Melissa Kessler at mkessler (at) wheatworld.org.
Have You Signed On To the Farm Bill Now Message?
If you haven’t yet given your support to the Farm Bill Now message, go to www.farmbillnow.com to do so NOW! Start by reading the Farm Bill Now statement, endorsed by more than 60 agriculture groups. Then, put in your address, which will bring up a screen displaying local Members of Congress’ social media profiles and a place to submit your name to the expanding list of individuals supporting the petition!
Conventions Coming to a Close, Congress Coming Back to D.C.
The Democratic National Convention is meeting in Charlotte, N.C., this week, with President Barack Obama expected to accept his party’s endorsement for a second term on Thursday evening. Obama’s wife, Michelle, spoke to the crowd Tuesday, and former President Bill Clinton officially entered Obama’s name into nomination Wednesday. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack also made the pitch for his boss in a speech Wednesday. Republicans finished their convention last Thursday with presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney accepting his party’s mantle. The two conventions mark the end of the Congressional summer recess, with Members set to return to Washington, D.C., on Monday, Sept. 10.
Corn Growers Request RFS Comment Deadline Extension
Citing uncertainty in the corn crop and the current harvest season, the National Corn Growers Association has requested an extension to the comment period underway regarding possible modifications to the renewable fuels standard (RFS). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published notice of a 30-day public comment period on Aug. 30. The call for comments was triggered by requests from four governors for an RFS waiver reducing the amount of renewable fuels needing to be produced under the law. NAWG supports the existing RFS and similar policies to expand the use of conventional ethanol and cellulosic ethanol. More on the comment period is at http://www.epa.gov/oms/fuels/renewablefuels/notices.htm. The full NCGA request is at http://ncga.com/news-stories/647-ncga-requests-extension-for-rfs-waiver-comments/.
Export Projections and Commodity Prices Hit All-Time Highs
The current economic and agronomic environments have driven some commodity prices and projected exports to their highest levels ever, USDA and other agencies have reported recently. USDA announced last Thursday it believes farm exports will hit $143.5 billion in the 2013 fiscal year, compared to an estimated near-record of $136.5 billion in the 2012 fiscal year. Since 2009, U.S. agricultural exports have made gains of 50 percent. These records are in part due to high prices, including the highest corn and soybean prices on record, according to a new Food Price Watch report from the World Bank. Wheat prices are also up but still below records. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said Thursday its food price index held steady in August after rising 6 percent in July. While higher prices are wonderful for farmers who have crops to sell, they also increase concerns about food insecurity in some parts of the world.
USDA: 46.67 Million Americans Receiving SNAP Benefits
USDA released data last week showing a record 46.67 million Americans are now participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program. These individuals are part of 22.4 million households receiving an average of $276.50 a month. The number of Americans participating in SNAP has exceeded 46 million since September of 2011 and has exceeded 40 million since March 2010. SNAP is authorized as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, which expires on Sept. 30, though the program is written such that benefits will not be affected if a new bill is not approved by that deadline.
Kansas Wheat Launches Home Baker Online Community
Kansas Wheat has two new opportunities for home bakers interested in improving their skills or showing off their handiwork. A new online community at www.americasbreadbasket.com offers visitors the opportunity to share recipes, baking tips and more, plus gain access to the nutrition information and educational resources of the Kansas Wheat Commission. The website includes an “Ask a Question” feature as well as a blog, “Daily Bread,” on which wheat experts address topics ranging from nutrition trends and fads to kitchen tips. The America’s Breadbasket site also has information available about the annual National Festival of Breads baking contest, the only nation-wide, amateur bread-baking competition. Entries are being accepted in four categories until February 2013.