Senate Approves 2013 Farm Bill
The Senate passed its version of the 2013 Farm Bill Monday evening on a 66 to 27 vote. NAWG believes the legislation will help provide certainty to our farmers and support more than 16 million U.S. jobs. The bill also cuts more than $24 billion over existing spending. NAWG issued a statement shortly after the vote on final passage thanking Senators, particularly Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), for their bipartisan work throughout the Senate process. NAWG is now urging quick consideration of the farm bill in the House to facilitate a new farm and food law being in place by Sept. 30.
NAWG, Ag Groups Press House on Priorities Ahead of Floor Time
As the focus on the farm bill moves across the hill to the House side, NAWG and other agriculture groups have been reaching out to show their support for completing a farm bill this year. NAWG signed onto a letter with 194 other groups supporting swift passage of a five-year farm bill and telling Members that failure to pass a five-year farm bill before the end of September would be mean continued uncertainty for farmers, ranchers and their rural communities. NAWG is also part of a coalition opposing any amendments to the farm bill that would weaken crop insurance. In another letter sent this week, the Association asked House members and House Leadership to support the provisions in the farm bill to strengthen and enhance crop insurance and also ask for their opposition to any possible amendment that may weaken the program. NAWG also outlined wheat growers’ crop insurance priorities in a letter to all House agriculture aides, asking specifically that their offices oppose any amendment to tie conservation compliance to crop insurance. To read these letters and stay up to date on all things farm bill, please visit our website at www.wheatworld.org/farmbill.
Wheat Groups Push for More Information on GM Wheat Investigation
NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates have continued to communicate with USDA officials, Hill offices, state wheat organizations and others this week as the wheat industry – and the world – awaits further information about a finding of Roundup Ready wheat on one farm field in Oregon.
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (AHPIS) confirmed the finding last month, noting that it poses no threat to human or animal health or safety. APHIS continues to investigate why wheat with the trait, which was field-tested by Monsanto from 1998 to 2005, was found in a field in late April. NAWG staff, as well as other representatives from the wheat industry, have continued to participate in meetings this week with USDA officials to urge complete but timely conclusions from the investigation that can help the industry mitigate any customer concerns as the Pacific Northwest harvest quickly approaches. Japan and South Korea have declined to take imports of soft white wheat as the investigation continues.
On Thursday, APHIS confirmed that testing associated with the investigation so far has been negative and that there is no information that GE wheat is in commerce. The focus of the ongoing investigation is in the area surrounding the field where the detection of the GE wheat volunteers had been confirmed.
APHIS also reiterated that there is no commercially available rapid validated test for wheat. USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) is working toward making available appropriate and validated testing techniques to address market needs that may develop.
NAWG continues to urge USDA to share relevant findings regarding the investigation as they become available. Information from NAWG and USW about the investigation is available directly at www.wheatworld.org/aphisinvestigation and www.uswheat.org.
USTR Nominee Froman Says Trade Promotion Authority Action Likely
US Trade Representative Nominee Michael Froman said that he will push to renew Trade Promotion Authority if he is approved by the Senate. Trade Promotion Authority gives the White House authority to submit trade agreements to Congress for a straight yes or no approval, instead of allowing amendments. It was last passed by Congress in 2002, but has since expired in 2007. Trade Promotion Authority, also known as “fast track” trade legislation would also help the administration complete the Trans Pacific Partnership and European Union free trade agreements in a timely fashion.
Committee Charged with Developing 2015 Dietary Guidelines Named by USDA, HHS
USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced late last week the appointments of the 15 scientific experts who will make up the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee charged with developing the eighth edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Dietary Guidelines are updated every five years and serve as the foundation for national nutrition programs, standards and education. The Committee will first meet on June 13 and 14 in a public session. While NAWG does not advocate for specific nutrition policies, the organization does work with other “grain chain” groups as they provide information to governmental organizations like the Committee. More about the Guidelines process is at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.
June 19 Food Dialogues Event to Bring Debate on Transparency and Food
The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance’s (USFRA’s) next Food Dialogues event will tackle transparency and food, bringing together farmers, ranchers, industry experts, pundits and media to discuss one of America’s biggest food issues – the type of information consumers are looking for when making food-purchasing decisions. The discussion will be moderated by celebrity chef and nutritionist Ellie Krieger, host of Food Network’s hit show, “Healthy Appetite.” The event is scheduled for June 19 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Central time, live in Chicago and webcast online. For more information about the Food Dialogues, including a full list of panelists, visit www.fooddialogues.com.
Extra Credit: IFIC Consumer Survey Shows “Control Gap” on Diet, Exercise
The vast majority of Americans believe their diet, exercise and weight are within their control but far fewer are actually taking action on these issues, according to findings of the 2013 International Food Information Council Foundation food and health survey. The survey is designed to get insights about food safety, nutrition and health-related topics, which are beneficial for all aspects of the farm and food industries. Ninety percent of consumers say it’s possible to have “a great deal” or “complete” control over their physical activity, yet only 65 percent are actually trying to take that same amount of control in their own lives—a 25-point “control gap.” In terms of the healthfulness of their diet, there is a 20-point gap (88 percent versus 68 percent) and with weight, there is a 16 point gap (81 percent versus 65 percent). Barriers to increased control include a lack of willpower (64 percent), the dislike of exercise (60 percent), the perceived high cost of healthful food (54 percent) and slow progress (51 percent). Despite this, Americans report little control gap related to happiness, physical attractiveness, the amount of money they make, and the safety of the foods and beverages they consume. An executive summary and the full findings of the report are at www.foodinsight.org/foodandhealth2013.aspx.