USDA Investigating Detection of Biotech Trait in Wheat On A Farm in Oregon
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced Wednesday that test results of plant samples from an Oregon farm indicate the presence of genetically-engineered, (GE) glyphosate-resistant wheat plants. Further testing by USDA labs indicated the presence of the glyphosate-resistant trait Monsanto was authorized to field test in wheat from 1998 to 2005. APHIS emphasized that the detection of this wheat does not pose a food safety concern, and the trait found was determined to be safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004. APHIS also said its investigation is continuing. More directly from APHIS is available at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/2013/05/ge_wheat_detection.shtml.
Growers Reassure Customers, Consumers Wheat is Safe, Investigation Is Ongoing
NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates, the industry’s export market development organization, were notified Wednesday of APHIS’s findings. The organizations expect the regulatory authority’s investigation will provide additional details about the situation and any appropriate actions that may be needed. Wheat grower leaders are confident that U.S. wheat, wheat flour and wheat foods remain safe, wholesome and nutritious for people around the world, and they are working with domestic and international customers to understand their questions as the investigation continues. NAWG and USW appreciate our customers standing with us while we monitor the investigation, and we will share additional information as soon as it becomes available. More is available online at www.wheatworld.org/aphisinvestigation.
USW and NAWG Respond to Unconfirmed Reports of Japan Import Restriction
U.S. Wheat Associates and NAWG have been made aware of unconfirmed reports that the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF) has imposed an “import restriction” on soft white wheat from the United States. In fact, U.S. Wheat Associates has received no official word of such a restriction. Yesterday, MAFF did decide not to purchase U.S. white wheat in its regular tender because of the announcement from USDA that an unauthorized Roundup Ready trait was detected in volunteer wheat on a single farm in Oregon. However, MAFF did purchase U.S. hard red spring (HRS) wheat and hard red winter (HRW) wheat in that tender. More about this is at www.wheatworld.org/aphisinvestigation.
Congress Out of Session for Memorial Day Recess
Both the House and Senate were out of session this week for the Memorial Day holiday, which was Monday. They are both scheduled to return on Monday, June 3, and remain in session until a week-long recess over the Fourth of July holiday.
Senate Hopeful to Pass Farm Bill Next Week, House to Take Up Bill in Mid-June
The Senate plans to take up 2013 Farm Bill legislation as soon as it is back in session on Monday, June 3. Although it is still unclear what amendments will be considered during the final days of debate, members of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, including Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), seem confident that their chamber will pass its version of the farm bill sometime next week. Before leaving for the Memorial Day recess, Senators undertook three full days of debate and amendment votes on the Senate floor. According to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), the House is set to debate its bill on the House floor sometime in mid-June, possibly the week of June 17th. NAWG is encouraged by the swift movement on the Senate and House floors, and wheat growers look forward to a completed legislative product before the current extension expires on Sept. 30.
Preview of Senate Farm Bill Debate: Crop Insurance Still a Target
New analysis is coming out about the amendment adopted by the full Senate during debate last week that would apply adjusted gross income (AGI) limits to crop insurance premiums. The amendment was offered from Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and would reduce the premium subsidy by 15 percent for farmers with AGIs of $750,000 or higher. Kansas State University agriculture economist Dr. Art Barnaby examined how placing means testing on crop insurance would affect the risk pool, agreeing with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow’s (D-Mich.) comments that limiting crop insurance support would cause producers with large pieces of land to leave the insurance system, making the costs rise for the rest of the risk pool.
Barnaby also examined assumptions behind an amendment likely to be offered on the Senate floor next week by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), which would eliminate the harvest price option from the revenue protection contract. Barnaby explains that crop insurance has provided yield coverage since 1980, but only after the inclusion of the harvest price option in 1996 was there large scale Corn Belt participation in crop insurance. Ultimately, amendments such as the Durbin-Coburn and Flake amendments will incentivize farmers not to take crop insurance, which is exactly the opposite of what NAWG and most other farmer organizations believe the industry needs. NAWG strongly supports policies that encourage everyone who wants to take crop insurance to be able to participate in the program, making it more affordable for all growers and helping ensure safe and affordable food for a growing world population.
Follow Along With Wheat Harvest Crews Blogging for All Aboard Harvest
The reporters and crews featured on the All Aboard Harvest blog are back on the road for the 2013 harvest season. The blog is written by custom harvesters to share their experiences living and working in the heartland during the wheat harvest season. Consumers, city folk and farmers alike can follow along with their adventures and to see how the wheat crop is faring throughout the country. The blog is at www.allaboardharvest.com or on social media services Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Instagram.