Legislation Introduced to Grant President Obama Trade Promotion Authority
Legislation to grant President Obama trade promotion authority (TPA), was introduced today by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), as well as Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich) in the House of Representatives. The legislation aims to renew TPA for up to seven years, giving the administration and trade negotiators the ability to accelerate and implement several large free trade agreements, such as the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that are currently being negotiated. TPA was last renewed in 2002 and expired in 2007. The United States is the world’s largest wheat exporter, exporting about half wheat grown in the U.S. abroad.
Farm Bill Stalls Due to Dairy Disagreements
All of agriculture had high hopes this week that we’d see significant movement on a farm bill, but it appears the legislation has hit another snag over a longstanding dispute on dairy policy. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said in an interview yesterday that the biggest sticking point at the moment “is the dairy policy.” The Senate-passed bill has a new program offering farmers profit-margin insurance for dairy producers and would require producers who voluntarily enter the program agree to cut milk production if the price should fall below a set amount. Similar language passed in the House Agriculture Committee bill, with the strong support of House Agriculture Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), but was stripped from the version on the House floor via an amendment offered by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) is a strong advocate for stripping the supply management language from the House bill and keeping it out of any conference report. Speaker Boehner held a press conference today and when asked about the dairy provisions within the farm bill the Speaker said “I am confident the conference report will not include supply management in the dairy program.” Chairman Lucas said that the lead conferees have been working on a compromise that would satisfy both Boehner and Peterson but they are “just not there yet.”
British Environment Secretary Urges EU to Approve GM Crops
Genetically modified crops need to be approved by the European Union (EU), according to British Environment Secretary Owen Patterson, otherwise European agriculture is at risk of becoming “the museum of world farming.” While the UK is not an EU member state themselves, Patterson urged lawmakers to base their decision off scientific evidence, citing recent studies that show the safety and benefits of genetically modified crops. EU member states will vote later this month whether or not to allow cultivation of insect-resistant maize. If approved, it would be the first genetically modified crop authorized for planting in the EU in over a decade. The approval will likely face considerable opposition from several countries in the EU that have previously banned growing GM crops, such as France and Italy.
NRCS extends CSP application deadline
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced the extension of the deadline for enrolling in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). CSP offers various levels of financial and technical assistance based on voluntary conservation practices adopted by producers over the course of their contract. Higher levels of conservation practice adoption or enhancement receive higher levels of financial assistance. A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is right for them. Producers interested in applying can submit applications to NRCS through Feb. 7, 2014. CSP is one of several Farm Bill conservation programs that continue to operate in 2014 despite the expiration of the Farm Bill last year.
Congressman McIntyre to Retire
Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC) announced yesterday that he will not seek reelection this year. McIntyre has held his seat since 1996 but had a tough reelection in 2012 narrowly winning against Republican state Sen. David Rouzer and would have been up against him again this year in a rematch. McIntyre is a longstanding member of the House Agriculture Committee and is second in seniority on the Committee behind current Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Min.). McIntyre has been a friend of wheat during his time in office and on behalf of the wheat family we wish him well and good luck in his future endeavors.
2014 WOLF Program Still Accepting Applicants
The 2014 Wheat Organization Leaders of the Future (WOLF) Program, a grower leader training program of the National Wheat Foundation funded by a generous grant from Bayer CropScience, will be held January 28-29 at the Hyatt Regency – Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. just ahead of the Winter Wheat Conference. This program is geared towards newer board members of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG). New state staff members could also benefit from participating. The agenda features, among other items, an indoctrination of the NAWG governance and operational structure; examples of how NAWG and other national agricultural organizations handle crises impacting their respective industries; and, training on becoming an effective board member, communicator and wheat industry advocate. Speakers will include NAWG leaders and senior staff as well as v-Fluence President Jay Byrne and American Farm Bureau Federation Director of Training & Development Jill Casten. If you wish to participate in this informative and timely program, please contact NAWG’s Jinger Eberspacher at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 202-547-7800.
Commodity Classic 2014 Is Fast Approaching
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 find out what’s going on 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.
Funeral Service for Mark Gaede Set for Saturday, January 25, 2014
Funeral services for Mark Gaede, longtime National Association of Wheat Growers lobbyist, will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at the Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home Chapel, 1500 West Braddock Rd., Alexandria, Va. 22302. Visitation and viewing will be held from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.