NAWG Board Meeting Update
This week’s issue of NAWG Weekly Update is a special issue highlighting the activity at the NAWG and USW joint annual fall business meeting in Portland. “We had a very productive few days last week in Portland at our annual joint business meeting between NAWG and U.S. Wheat,” said President Bing Von Bergen, a wheat farmer and seedsman from near Moccasin, Mont. “It was great to have the whole wheat industry together and to welcome our new CEO Jim Palmer to his first NAWG Board meeting as we addressed key issues including biotechnology, farm policy and international trade.” Highlights of the committee meetings are reported below.
Research & Technology Committee Discusses Labeling, Adventitious Presence
Grower-leaders of NAWG serving on the Research & Technology Committee reviewed a range of current issues, including an update on GMO food labeling initiatives occurring around the country, such as the I-522 initiative which was voted on last week in Washington. “We discussed GMO labeling initiatives and moved position statements into a resolution form so we can take action, specifically with minimum allowable amounts of GMO products in wheat,” said Chairman of the Research and Technology Committee, Robert Blair, Kendrick, Ida. In addition, Gary Millershaski, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, presented an overview of weed resistance issues facing the industry. The committee also discussed the direction of the National Wheat Improvement Committee, while staff gave an update on the ongoing GMO wheat investigation in Oregon.
Environmental and Renewable Resources Committee Talk Conservation
The Environmental and Renewable Resources Committee heard from industry and government partners about issues impacting wheat growers. Roylene Rides at the Door of USDA-NRCS, provided an overview of conservation efforts in Washington State. Allen Scarborough, Stakeholder Relations Manager, Bayer CropScience, outlined the current bee pollinator issue. Keira Franz, NAWG Environmental Policy Advisor provided updates on the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule and NPDES permits and additional policy issues related to the Clean Water Act. The committee also discussed participation in sustainability efforts and the Field to Market Coalition.
Transportation Discussed During Domestic and Trade Policy Committee Meeting
A panel of industry representatives discussed current transportation issues during the Domestic and Trade Policy committee meeting. Panelists included Kristin Meira, Executive Director of Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, who covered transportation policy and economic development issues facing the Columbia River system in the Pacific Northwest and reiterated the need for the passage of a strong Water Resources (WRRDA) bill out of Congress this year. Other panelists included two rail industry representatives, Greg Guthrie, Director of Marketing for BNSF’s Railway Agricultural Products, and Paul Hammes, VP and General Manager of agriculture products for Union Pacific, who discussed their respective company’s plans for future expansion and how that will impact wheat farmers. Wayne Hurst, past president of NAWG also spoke to the committee on his experience as the agriculture representative on the Railroad-Shipper Transportation Advisory Council (RSTAC), which advises the surface transportation board on transportation issues from a shipper’s perspective. The meeting also included discussion from grower leaders and staff on the farm bill, crop insurance, and trade issues.
Oregon Department of Agriculture speaks to Joint International Trade Policy Committee
Dennis Hannapel, Trade Policy Specialist from the Oregon Department of Agriculture, spoke about the state’s trade policy priorities and perspectives to begin the joint meeting between NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates. NAWG and USW staff then provided updates to the committee on the two major free trade agreements currently being negotiated: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with a number of Asian Pacific nations, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union. The committee followed that up with a discussion on the status of the farm bill and the importance of congress passing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).. Staff also updated the committee and discussed several ongoing issues such as trade distorting Turkish flour exports in Southeast Asia as well as the current status of negotiations within the WTO among other issues.
Biotechnology Discussed at Length
Grower-leaders from NAWG and US Wheat Associates on the Joint Biotechnology Committee reviewed current issues and policies facing the wheat industry as it looks towards future developments in biotechnology. The committee received updates from technology providers and reviewed the status of the ongoing GMO wheat event that took place earlier this year. The group then reviewed the committee goals as well as plans for the future of the Wheat Innovation Alliance. “There was a lot of thoughtful engagement on how we as producers can go about introducing biotech wheat into the market without disrupting our international markets. We are very sensitive to our foreign customers’ needs,” commented committee chairman, Jay Armstrong.
Minore Scholarship Applications Due to National Wheat Foundation by Dec. 15
The National Wheat Foundation is accepting applications for the 2013 Jerry Minore Memorial Scholarship program. The Minore Memorial Scholarship will fund four college scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year: two $1,500 scholarships and two $1,000 scholarships. It was established by NWF and BASF to honor longtime BASF employee and wheat champion, Jerry Minore, who passed away in 2012. More information about the program and application materials are available at www.wheatfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/2013-Minore-Scholarship-Application.pdf. Applications are due to the NWF office by Dec. 15.
National Wheat Foundation Talks Building Plans
Members of the National Wheat Foundation discussed plans for the new headquarters office in Washington, D.C. The Wheat Innovation Alliance provided for a robust discussion and increased collaboration among board members. “We discussed a few different options for the new building and are still coming together with those ideas,” said Chairman Jimmie Musick, farmer near Sentinel, Okla. “The wheat industry is really coming together. I’m looking forward to what the future holds,” said board member Phil McLain, farmer from Statesville, NC.