Meet With Your Members Home for August Recess
The dog days of summer are upon Washington, and Members of Congress have returned home to (hopefully) better weather and to meet with constituents. NAWG encourages all farmers to meet with their elected officials during this five-week summer period to deliver a simple message: farmers need a comprehensive, long-term farm bill before the existing extension of farm law expires on Sept. 30. Completion of a new farm bill this year is NAWG’s top policy priority, and farmer outreach to Members back home is essential to reaching this goal!
Farm Bill Happenings: Senate Names Conferees, Vilsack Indicates Brazil Problems
Before leaving town last week, the Senate officially named its members of the eventual farm bill conference committee, appointing the Agriculture Committee’s seven most senior Democrats and five most senior Republicans (excepting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)). The House has yet to take the procedural steps necessary to move to conference or name conferees, with word that work will wait until the body takes up a nutrition measure to supplement the “farm-only farm bill” that was passed in July. Meanwhile, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack warned this week that without a farm bill, USDA will no longer be able to stave off trade retaliations stemming from a World Trade Organization (WTO) case involving cotton. For several years, Brazil has accepted payments from the United States to hold off on sanctions while waiting for new farm policy support structures in the new farm bill.
As Focus Shifts to Informal Talks, NAWG Outlines Risk Management Priorities
NAWG wrote Congressional agriculture leaders last week to reaffirm wheat growers’ risk management policy priorities for the 2013 Farm Bill, which is expected to be the subject of staff discussions throughout the August recess. In a letter sent to Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), NAWG asserted the importance of crop insurance and applauded the principals on their “continued emphasis on crop insurance and work to bolster the program.” NAWG’s highest Title I priority is the “inclusion of a revenue-based safety net plan including farm-level protection,” which will provide wheat growers, some of whom farm in the largest and most diverse counties in the United States, with sufficient protection. The full letter is available online at www.wheatworld.org/farmbill.
EPA Finalizes 2013 Renewable Fuels Standard Requirements
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Tuesday it will require 16.55 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be blended into U.S. fuel supplies in 2013, including 1.28 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel, 2.75 billion gallons of advanced biofuels and 6 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels. The 2013 requirements under the renewable fuels standard (RFS) amount to a 9.74 percent blend of renewable fuels within the overall U.S. fuel supply, which EPA said reflects available renewable fuels in the market. In a nod to the calendar, EPA said its deadline to comply with the 2013 volume requirements is being extended to June 30, 2014. EPA said it would seek to reduce the total RFS and advanced biofuel requirements in 2014 standards because of concerns about the E10 blend wall. The RFS calls for 36 billion gallons of biofuel use by 2022. More on the RFS is at www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/regulations.htm.
FDA Sets Standards for Voluntary Labeling of Foods as “Gluten-Free”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new regulations late last week clarifying and standardizing the definition of “gluten-free” for voluntary labels on food packages. In order to be labeled gluten-free or something similar, foods must now meet all requirements of the legal definition, including containing less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The rule will be final 30 days after publication, and food manufacturers will have a year to comply with it. The North American Millers’ Association and the American Bakers Association, both of which NAWG works with closely, commended the FDA for clarifying the definition of gluten-free. More from FDA on the new standards is available via http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm363474.htm.
Applications for 2013 WILOT Program Due Sept. 23
The National Wheat Foundation is now taking applications for the 2013 Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow (WILOT) program, scheduled for Nov. 16 to 21. WILOT is an annual program designed for wheat farmers who want to become involved in association and commission leadership. Workshops at the 2013 event will focus on the structure and priorities of the wheat industry as well as leadership, media and lobbying training. WILOT is sponsored by Monsanto and held in St. Louis, giving farmer-participants the opportunity to visit Monsanto labs and talk with their scientists working on wheat. Growers interested in the program should review the application process at http://www.wheatfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/NWF-Leadership-Training-Application.pdf. All applications are due to Jinger Eberspacher, jeberspacher (at) wheatworld.org, in the NAWG office by Sept. 23.
NAWG and U.S. Wheat Visit With Ag Media, Industry Friends at Ag Media Summit
Communications staff members from NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates traveled to Buffalo, N.Y., this week to meet with farm-focused writers and PR staff from ag companies as part of the 2013 Ag Media Summit. The Summit is the annual meeting of the American Ag Editors’ Association and other communication organizations. NAWG and USW participate in the event and its affiliated trade show, InfoExpo, each year to build relationships with ag writers and keep them updated about happenings that affect their wheat-growing readers. Updates from the event are available by searching Twitter for #agmedia.
Bread Bites: Looking at the Science of Gluten-Free Diets
Gluten-free diets are becoming more popular, but are they wise? In an article published last fall in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Drs. Glenn Gaesser and Siddhartha Angadi address the appropriateness of avoiding gluten for the 90-percent-plus of the population not suffering from celiac disease or gluten intolerance. They concluded that “there is no published experimental evidence to support such claims for the general population. In fact, there are data to suggest that gluten itself may provide some health benefits, and that gluten avoidance may not be justified for otherwise healthy individuals.” The full article is available at http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(12)00743-5/fulltext. More of the latest research on grain foods nutrition is available from the Grains Foods Foundation at http://www.gowiththegrain.org/nutrition/latest-studies.php.