NAWG Weekly Update: Dec. 19, 2013

December 19, 2013 Bookmark and Share

Farm Bill Details Expected in January
The House adjourned last Friday for the Holiday recess and the Senate is set to do the same tomorrow but Farm Bill negotiators are still hard at work trying to resolve a few more details in order to provide a conference report by the first week of January. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said this week that a framework is close and that they plan to announce the details the first week of January. Both the House and Senate return from the Holiday recess the week of January 6. It is expected there will be a full conference committee meeting once all of the members are back, and votes may be needed on key issues that have yet to be resolved.

Obama Nominates Vetter as USTR Chief Ag Negotiator
President Barack Obama announced this week that he will nominate Darci Vetter as Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Vetter, who has been Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS) at USDA since 2010, will be replacing Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, who announced he will be stepping down early next year. If confirmed by Congress, Vetter will have a full slate of work in front of her in 2014 as USTR continues to negotiate several large free trade agreements including the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union, both of which hold immense importance for agricultural trade.

Budget Deal Heads to President’s Desk
The Senate approved the bipartisan budget agreement Wednesday afternoon with a 64 to 36 vote. The President is expected to sign the budget before he leaves town for Christmas. The budget agreement will reduce budget deficits by $85 billion over the next decade and fund the federal agencies through fall 2015. Nine republicans joined the Senate democrats in support of the budget deal, including Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Susan Collins (Maine), Orrin G. Hatch (Utah), John Hoeven (N.D.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Ronald Johnson (Wis.), John McCain (Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Rob Portman (Ohio).The ball is now in the appropriators court to reach a deal on how to spend the budgeted money. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and her House counterpart, Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) have immediately started working through the differences in the two bills and believe they can deliver an omnibus spending bill for the President’s signature by Jan. 15.

White House Expected to Nominate Baucus as Next Ambassador to China
The White House is expected to nominate veteran Senator Max Baucus (D.-Mont.) as the next U.S. Ambassador to China, according to multiple news reports today. Baucus, who has served in the U.S. Senate since 1978, had already announced that he would not be running for reelection in 2014. It is unclear when the appointment will take place. Senator Baucus has long been an advocate for our nation’s wheat farmers and his leadership will be greatly missed. Click here for more information.

NAWG Participates in USBCA Plenary
President Bing Von Bergen represented NAWG at the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance (USBCA) plenary this week in Washington, D.C. to learn more about USBCA’s structure and strategic objectives. USBCA seeks to improve the environment for technology innovations and the market for U.S. agricultural products. Its objective is to provide for value chain coordination in advocacy and communication related to crop biotechnology, policy and markets. Click here for more information.

Whole Farm and Multiple Peril Crop Insurance Program Dates Approaching
USDA has notified producers of winter and spring sales closing dates for multiple peril crop insurance programs. Producers are instructed to make all of their coverage decisions before the closing dates. The upcoming closing dates are as follows:

January 31, 2014 – Last day to buy or change AGR insurance in select counties in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Last day to submit required documents to continue or change 2014 AGR-Lite insurance for existing policy holders.
February 3, 2014 – Last day to buy or change crop insurance coverage for 2014 spring planted onions in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington and cabbage in Oregon and Washington.
March 17, 2014 – Last day to buy or change all other spring seeded multiple peril crop insurance (excluding wheat in counties with fall and spring planted types). Last day to buy 2014 AGR-Lite insurance for new application/enrollment policies.

For more information you can visit USDA’s website at www.rma.usda.gov.

Happy Holidays from NAWG
NAWG’s staff and leaders wish all of our readers a wonderful holiday season. Our offices will be closed December 23 – 27, reopening December 30. The next issue of NAWG’s Weekly Update will arrive January 2, 2014. Happy holidays from all of us!