Here’s a quick update on ag policy happenings this week. The most up-to-date information from NAWG is always available online at www.twitter.com/wheatworld.
Presidential Candidates Sling Accusations on Farm Bill
Agriculture policy was front and center in the presidential campaign this week. Republican candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney campaigned at a century farm in Iowa on Tuesday, joined by members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation. Romney criticized many of President Barack Obama’s agriculture policies, including his stance on the estate tax and the Administration’s export and regulatory policies. The Obama campaign this week issued an open letter to farmers and ranchers highlighting the farm and rural initiatives undertaken by the Administration and criticizing House Republicans for lack of action on the farm bill. A transcript of Romney’s full remarks is available at http://farmpolicy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/GovRomIowa10Oct9.pdf. The open letter from Obama is at http://www.wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/other-obama-open-letter-election-2012.pdf.
Reports: No Major Developments or Discussions on Farm Bill, Timing
The ag community is holding its breath that when the election is over in four weeks, Congress will return for a lame-duck session and pass a comprehensive, five-year farm bill, though that goal seems very far off. In a recent interview with CQ-Roll Call, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said he hasn’t spoken with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) or Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) since the recess started. Lucas has an uphill battle ahead of him in trying to get House approval of his bill, though Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) provided some hope recently, saying about the farm bill during a campaign event that, “[i]f it’s going to pass, we’re going to need some tweaks.” NAWG strongly supports approval of a new, long-term bill this year.
NAWG Urges EPA to Reject RFS Waiver Request
The recent drought – not the existing renewable fuels standard (RFS) – is the primary cause of economic hardship facing many agricultural producers, and waiving the RFS would hurt the country’s efforts to develop alternate fuels and rural economies, NAWG said in comments this week to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The statement from NAWG President Erik Younggren, a wheat farmer in Minnesota, was submitted Wednesday. The comment period closed Thursday; a final decision on the waiver request is expected in late November. NAWG’s full comments are available at http://www.wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/celleth-NAWG-comments-RFS-waiver-proposal-20121009.pdf.
ARS Seeking New National Program Leader for Grain Crops
USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is accepting applications from scientists interested in becoming the next national program leader responsible for leading and coordinating ARS grain crop improvement, production and protection programs. The position is vital to wheat research within the Department, charged with representing grains during USDA priority-setting exercises; serving as the ARS’ technical expert on grain research both inside and outside the department; and liaising with outside scientists, industry and other government agencies. The application window is open until Nov. 1. The full job announcement is at https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/327955700.
New Crop Insurance Website Lets Groups, Small Businesses Show Support
National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) announced on Wednesday the launch of a new website to allow groups to show their support for crop insurance. According to the NCIS press release, the website, www.SupportCropInsurance.org, will allow “organizations, farmers, agents, small businesses and others to sign an open letter to Congress in support of crop insurance.” Crop insurance is the top risk management tool for U.S. farmers and, following this year’s record-setting drought, it has become clearer than ever how important crop insurance is. Nearly 80 percent of wheat acres in the U.S. are covered by some form of crop insurance.
Wednesday Webinar Set on Teaching the Next Generation About Agriculture
The Alliance to Feed the Future is hosting a webinar next Wednesday on the issue of agriculture education. The online event will be held from 12:30 until 2 p.m. Eastern time. It is scheduled in association with the World Food Prize events and will feature a panel talking about making agriculture part of school curricula, shaping how young people see agriculture and providing resources to educators and parents. Registration is free but space is limited. To register, go to http://event.netbriefings.com/event/ific/Live/alliance/.
Grain Chain Teams Up with USDA to Promote MyPlate and Whole Grains
Wheat industry and nutrition education groups recently launched a partnership with USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) on whole grains education by releasing a series of videos on how to incorporate whole grains into daily diets. The videos feature Liz Weiss, a registered dietician, cookbook author and family nutrition expert, who shares creative, healthy and economical ways to increase whole grain consumption. The short videos are available online via Wheat Foods at www.wheatfoods.org or at www.choosemyplate.gov/videos.html.
From U.S. Wheat: WASDE Shows Wheat Production, Consumption Down
Wheat futures received a bump up today following the release of USDA’s October World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. For the second time in two weeks, USDA’s production estimates for wheat came in below industry expectations and provided support for futures markets. USDA lowered estimated 2012/2013 global wheat production 1 percent from its September estimate and 6 percent below last year’s production. USDA also lowered its total global wheat consumption estimate. U.S. Wheat’s full analysis of the WADSE report is in the Oct. 11 Wheat Letter at http://www.uswheat.org/newsEvents/wheatLetter.
Extra Credit: World Without Food Science
If you’re looking for an extra something this week, check out “World Without Food Science,” a short but illustrative video depicting an alternate universe without plant science, microbiology and the other science that goes into food production, processing, packaging and transportation. The video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhuaXO2A3Tk or www.worldwithoutfoodscience.org.