Wheat Leaders Gather in Portland for Fall Meetings
The grower-leaders who run NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates met this week in Portland, Ore., for their annual fall business meetings, reviewing a wide range of financial and policy topics. The NAWG Board accepted several resolutions from its committees and the two standing joint committees with USW that focus on biotechnology and trade policies. Two new resolutions restated existing policy outlined in the NAWG/USW Biotechnology Position Statement, on biotech food labeling and threshold levels for adventitious presence. Wholly new resolutions expressed support for an ongoing trade negotiation with the European Union; on tariff rate quota utilization for World Trade Organization member countries; and supporting trade promotion authority (TPA). The NAWG Board also accepted the organization’s annual audit, a revised budget and a revised industry partners program, and it encouraged increased support for the Wheat Innovation Alliance. Audio reports on several committees’ actions from those panels’ chairmen are available at http://www.wheatworld.org/newsroom/audio-updates/.
Senate Names WRDA Conferees in Sign of Regular Order, Interest in Finishing Bill
A casual observer might think regular order is the hot new trend on Capitol Hill these days, as Congressional leaders appointed Members this week to the third major conference committee to be seated in recent months. The Senate this week named its conferees for the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), known as the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) in the House. The committee includes several wheat-state Senators, including Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.); John Barrasso (R-Wyo.); and Max Baucus (D-Mont.). The committee will be chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Though the House has yet to name its conferees, the Senate action is a sign Members want this significant piece of legislation completed by the end of the year. Other major conference processes that are ongoing focus on the farm bill and the federal budget. More on WRRDA is available from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee at http://transportation.house.gov/WRRDA.
Farm Policy Leaders Continue Talks, With Goal of A Deal Before Thanksgiving
Congressional agriculture leaders continued their work this week to hammer out an agreement on a 2013 Farm Bill, with the Democratic ag leaders in both chambers saying they hope to have a conference product by Thanksgiving. The farm bill conference committee met officially for the first time last week, allowing the 41 Members who are charged with finding an as-of-yet-elusive compromise to make their opening statements and offers. As was expected, negotiations are now happening in private, with discussions led by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who is also on the pending federal budget conference committee; Senate Ag Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.); House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.); and House Ag Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). Both Peterson and Stabenow said in the press this week they want to get a deal substantially done before the Thanksgiving break, which would give it the optimum chance of actually being completed before year’s end. That speed of progress, though, is predicated on compromises on several sticky issues, including Title I programs and nutrition spending.
Washington State Voters Reject GMO Food Labeling
Washington voters Tuesday rejected a measure to label genetically modified (GM) foods and foods made with GM material. The ballot initiative failed by an approximately 54 percent to 45 percent margin with about 30 percent of ballots, which are submitted by mail, counted. The measure would have made Washington the first state to implement GM labeling and sparked a heated debate in the state, as did a similar failed measure in California in 2012. An estimated $30 million was spent on advertising and other public messages between the two campaigns. The No on 522 campaign took issue specifically with exemptions that appeared in the initiative, for instance foods purchased at restaurants, alcoholic beverages and meat and dairy products from animals fed GM grains. NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates support the introduction of biotechnology into the wheat crop and voluntary labeling of food products that is consistent with U.S. law and international trade agreements and is truthful and not misleading.
2013 WILOT Leadership Training Class to Meet in St. Louis
The 2013 class of the Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow (WILOT) program is set to meet beginning Nov. 16 in St. Louis, Mo. The leadership-training program, which is generously sponsored and planned by Monsanto, is intended for growers who are new to serving in wheat industry organizations. The program’s six-day agenda includes sessions on ag and food policy, media training, advocacy techniques, understanding the wheat industry organizations, establishing consumer trust, effectively using social media, and new wheat technologies. Growers selected for this year’s class include: Brian Brooks, Walsh, Colo.; Sid Cellan, Soda Springs, Idaho; Rob Davis, Larslan, Mont.; Jace Gibbs, Scott City, Kan.; Steven Parsons, Ducor, Calif.; Michael Peters, Okarche, Okla.; Eric Orem, Ione, Ore.; and Shayne Suppes, Scott City, Kan. Also participating will be NAWG First Vice President Paul Penner and Second Vice President Brett Blankenship as well as NAWG staff members.
Minore Scholarship Applications Due to National Wheat Foundation by Dec. 15
The National Wheat Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2013 Jerry Minore Memorial Scholarship program. The Minore scholarship was established by NWF and BASF to honor longtime BASF employee and wheat champion who passed away in 2012. The Minore Memorial Scholarship will fund four college scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year: two $1,500 scholarships and two $1,000 scholarships. 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.
Wheat Industry Excited to Meet Reporters at Farm Broadcasters’ Convention
NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates will again share a booth at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s annual interview fair, Trade Talk, next Thursday. NAWG President Bing Von Bergen and USW Secretary Treasurer Brian O’Toole will be on hand to talk with reporters attending the convention, along with NAWG Director of Communications Melissa Kessler and USW Vice President of Communications Steve Mercer. Hot topics are expected to include the ongoing farm bill negotiations, Brazil and China wheat demand and the ongoing USDA investigation into Roundup Ready wheat found in one farm field earlier this year.