House Passes Omnibus Spending Measure
The House passed a $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill on Wednesday, on a 359-67 vote, that would fund the federal government for the rest of the 2014 fiscal year. The bill, introduced by House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), establishes discretionary spending at $1.012 trillion as well as an additional $98 billion for defense and disaster relief. The Senate is currently debating the measure, which includes all 12 of the annual appropriations bills and must be passed before Sunday to avoid a government shutdown. This bill also meets the spending cap set by the December budget deal negotiated by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.). The Omnibus bill provides $20.9 billion in discretionary funding for agriculture programs which is $350 million above the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.
The bill provides $2.6 billion for agriculture research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This includes $316 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, a competitive agricultural research grant program supporting research to help stop and mitigate devastating crop diseases and improve food safety and water quality, placing priority on drought, invasive species, and herbicide resistance issues. It also provides $826 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service to help farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners conserve and protect their land.
For a full summary of the agriculture appropriations spending click here http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/01.13.14_fy_2014_omnibus_-_agriculture_-_summary.pdf.
Agriculture Groups Request Bee Forage Summit
NAWG joined several agriculture, food and conservation organizations in requesting a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) summit on bee nutrition and forage. In a joint letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the groups asked that USDA consider scheduling a Bee Nutrition and Forage Summit in conjunction with the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign meeting scheduled for the fall. Proponents hope the summit can serve as the catalyst for collaborative efforts that will provide real improvements in bee health, due to increased understanding of the nutritional needs of honeybees and increased opportunities to access and improve bee forage on the American landscape. USDA is also currently planning varroa mite summit in February. The understanding of various impacts on bee health such as varroa mites and nutrition are important to inform any future actions that could impact producers’ access to crop protection tools. Click here to view the letter.
Renewable Fuels Standard Requirements for 2014 Under Review
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is accepting comments on proposed changes to the 2014 Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) volume requirements until Jan. 28, 2014. The proposed changes to the RFS impact cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel and renewable fuel requirements for 2014. The changes reduce the overall requirement from 18.15 billion gallons to 15.21 billion gallons, citing the “blend wall” or the maximum amount of renewable fuel that can be blended at 10 percent with estimated gasoline consumption in the future. NAWG is in the process of developing comments to submit in support of the RFS as passed by Congress and supporting E15. If you would like to submit comments, you can do so at www.saverenewablefuel.org/submit-your-comment
Grain Chain Endorses Maintaining Grain Consumption Recommendations
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) met Tuesday to discuss the nutritional value of grain foods. NAWG and the Grain Chain support the DGAC’s commitment to making dietary recommendations that are grounded in sound science and encourage the DGAC to continue providing attainable and consistent goals to Americans that offer a meaningful impact on health. The Grain Chain endorses maintaining the 2010 DGAC grain consumption recommendations encouraging Americans to consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. The group urged the Committee to give significant recognition to the valuable role of enriched grains in a healthy diet in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, a key component of which is fortification with folic acid. Americans have yet to achieve the current Dietary Guidelines recommendation making the recommendation’s goal still valid and vital. The U.S. is the leader in whole grain product introductions having introduced 466 new whole grain products on the market in 2010 alone. To view a copy of the oral statement, visit http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/.
WRRDA Negotiations Continue in 2014
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA)—which has been passed by both the House and Senate and went to conference committee late last year to reconcile the differences between the two chambers’ bills—continues to be negotiated as the New Year begins. Although the goal of completing an agreement by the end of 2013 was not met, members from both chambers on both sides of the aisle have expressed confidence that they will get the bill passed soon. WRRDA seeks to increase funding for waterway development projects, such as deepening waterways and lock and dam repair and upgrades. NAWG supports the passage of the WRRDA bill as it funds development for waterways such as the Columbia River system in the Pacific Northwest, where wheat is shipped to port before being exported abroad. More on NAWG’s position on WRRDA and other transportation issues can be found at http://www.wheatworld.org/issues/transportation/.
Sign up For Commodity Classic 2014
The 2014 Commodity Classic will be held in San Antonio, Texas from Feb. 27 – March 1. Commodity Classic is the annual convention and trade show of the wheat, corn, soybeans and sorghum industries. Stop by the National Association of Wheat Growers booth to learn the latest in the world of wheat and enter for a chance to win a Go-Pro camera. The National Association of Wheat Growers hosts its annual meeting during Classic. To register for Commodity Classic, please visit http://www.commodityclassic.com/registration-and-housing/online-registration.