Happy Fourth of July from Capitol Hill!
NAWG’s staff and grower-leaders wish all of our readers a happy Independence Day! In celebration, NAWG’s D.C. offices will be closed Thursday, July 4, and Friday, July 5. We will reopen Monday, July 8.
Members Head Home to Face Farmers Wondering How a Farm Bill Will Get Passed
Members of Congress returned to their districts this week for the Fourth of July recess, with the fate of the farm bill still uncertain. Many lawmakers are making the rounds in their districts to meet with constituents, including House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). Both leaders have been met with concerns from farmers about Congress’ ability to pass a farm bill this year, which have intensified in some circles as talk continues about splitting the farm policy and nutrition portions of the bill into separate measures. Several House Republicans have been vocal in support of this idea, though no announcements about the plan going forward have been made and Lucas, the top Republican agriculture leader in Congress, is strongly opposed. NAWG also has concerns about splitting the farm bill into sections and wrote, with more than 500 other groups, to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) this week asking him to bring the farm bill back to the floor and pass it with a “broad coalition of lawmakers from both sides” that would continue to “represent the delicate balance between America’s farm, nutrition, conservation and other priorities”. That letter is available in full online at www.wheatworld.org/farmbill.
Industry Gathers in South Dakota for U.S. Wheat Associates Summer Meeting
The Board and staff of U.S. Wheat Associates, the industry’s export market development organization and a sister organization to NAWG, met over the weekend in Rapid City, S.D. The sessions included meetings of all USW policy committees and the NAWG/USW Joint Biotechnology and Joint International Trade Policy Committees, which are comprised of members from both organizations. Discussions focused on ongoing trade negotiations including the Trans-Pacific Partnership; several pending biotech labeling initiatives; and the ongoing investigation into a finding of genetically modified wheat in one field on a farm in Oregon. USW and NAWG leaders in attendance also addressed the impact to farmers of the recent farm bill failure in the House, which could also affect USW funding through USDA-administered programs including the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program. On a more upbeat note, USW installed its new officers at the South Dakota meeting, led by Dan Hughes of Venango, Neb. More from USW is at www.uswheat.org.
APHIS Investigation Continuing, Industry Focuses on Restoring All Wheat Exports
The wheat industry continues its work to ensure open markets and exports in the midst of an ongoing investigation by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) into the presence of genetically modified wheat plants on one field in Oregon. USDA has provided information to trading partners via attaches and in writing, and the Japanese agriculture minister reportedly held a press conference Tuesday outlining the steps that country will take to resume purchases of all types of U.S. wheat. Representatives of the industry continue to be in contact with high-level USDA officials, and NAWG President Bing Von Bergen was able to address the issue with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack as part of an otherwise-unrelated discussion this week. More information about the investigation is available online at www.wheatworld.org/aphisinvestigation/.
Krysta Harden Nominated as USDA Deputy Secretary
President Barack Obama announced late last week he would nominate Krysta Harden as USDA deputy secretary. Michael Scuse, USDA under secretary, has been serving as interim deputy since the departure of Kathleen Merrigan. Harden is currently USDA’s chief of staff, having served as assistant secretary for Congressional relations from 2009 to 2011. Harden previously worked for multiple agriculture groups. NAWG considers Harden a knowledgeable friend of wheat and looks forward to working with her in her new role.
NASS Shows Acreage Up, Prices Down, Winter Wheat Harvest Behind Average
USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has recently released monthly agricultural prices, acreage and crop progress reports. The price report last Friday showed June prices for all wheat at $7.13 per bushel, down 55 cents from May, but 43 cents higher than the June 2012 price. The acreage report showed that the estimated acreage for all wheat planted for 2013 is 56.5 million acres, up 1 percent from 2012. For the week ending June 30, 43 percent of winter wheat was harvested, compared to 52 percent on average over the last five years. That week, 93 percent of spring wheat had emerged, compared to 99 percent on average over the last five years, and 18 percent of spring wheat had headed, compared to a five-year average of 32 percent. Full reports from NASS are available at www.nass.usda.gov.
End of an Era as Kansas City Board of Trade Pits Close
Present and past members of the Kansas City Board of Trade gathered Friday to mark the final day of trading in the KCBT’s wheat futures and options pits. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) rang the closing bell that signaled both the end of the day’s trading and the end of an era. As the final day of in-person trading drew near, most traders moved to electronic trading, which is now the norm for the long-standing hard red winter (HRW) wheat futures and options. These contracts are essential to price discovery and risk management for farmers, grain merchants, flour millers, bakers and other users of the crop. CME Group announced last fall it would acquire KCBT and said in February that it would move open outcry trading of KCBT HRW wheat futures and options to its Chicago trading floor starting July 1. More from KCBT is now at http://www.cmegroup.com/trading/agricultural/kcbt.html.
NAWG Newsletter Format Changes Becoming Permanent
Dedicated readers of this publication will notice its format has changed significantly since early in the year. We continue to receive positive feedback about our “quick updates,” which offer more distilled information about more topics, in line with the growing demands on time and space in the information age. As of this week, the new format will be permanent, though you will continue to receive this information Thursday afternoons in your inbox and online. As always, we welcome feedback to wheatworld (at) wheatworld.org.