NAWG Weekly Update Feb. 13, 2014

February 13, 2014 Bookmark and Share

NAWG Submits Comments to CFTC
NAWG submitted public comments Monday to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) outlining concerns with provisions in the Commission’s proposal to change its current rules on position limits, or the amount of contracts for a specific commodity one investor may have at once, and the impact it could have on trading wheat futures. NAWG encouraged the CFTC to maintain equality when setting limits for the three main wheat markets: Chicago (CBOT), Kansas City (KCBT) and Minneapolis (MGEX). Currently all three have equal position limits, which would change under the CFTC’s proposed rules. If implemented, the change could reduce the competitiveness of the KCBT and MGEX contracts at a time when these markets are poised for strong growth due to the transfer of the Kansas City Hard Red Wheat contract to Chicago. To read NAWG’s comments in their entirety, visit http://www.wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/NAWG-Position-on-CFTC-2-10-2014.pdf.

NAWG President Attends CME Meeting
NAWG president Bing Von Bergen, along with NAWG staff, attended the CME Group’s Agricultural Markets Advisory Council meeting this week in Washington, D.C. The Council, which also includes representatives from other agriculture associations, meets several times a year as a way for the CME Group to connect with agricultural producers and address concerns and issues facing the futures industry. This weeks meeting included guest speaker Dr. Joseph Glauber, Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), who gave a presentation on the state of the agriculture industry in America along with an outlook for the coming year. Von Bergen, who will represent NAWG on the Council through 2014, commented, “This council helps provide the U.S. wheat farmer with an inside voice to the futures industry. We look forward to continuing to build a strong relationship with the CME Group; one that is especially important with both Hard Red Winter and Soft Red Winter wheat varieties now trading in Chicago.” For more on NAWG’s policies regarding commodity markets, visit http://www.wheatworld.org/. For more information on the futures industry visit www.futuresfundatmentals.com.   

Shupe Attends Crop Insurance Conference
Brooke Shupe, NAWG’s director of government affairs for risk management attended the annual crop insurance convention this week in Scottsdale, Ariz. The conference brought together crop insurance industry leaders from both the National Crop Insurance Services and the American Association of Crop Insurers. Shupe, along with her peers from corn, rice, cotton, the American Farm Bureau and the National Farmers Union sat on a panel that discussed crop insurance in the latest farm bill. Shupe stated that “crop insurance was the number-one priority for the wheat growers throughout the farm bill process and it will continue to be our priority as it is our growers’ number one risk-management tool.” The panel also discussed how agriculture as a whole needs to work together in the coming years to continue defending crop insurance and maintaining its strength in order to provide the nation’s growers with the safety net they need to continue to feeding the world.

NAWG Annual Meeting Held February 25-27
NAWG will be hosting its annual meeting in conjunction with Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas from Feb. 25 – March 1. The meeting schedule consists of committee meetings as well as evening receptions. Stop by NAWG’s booth to learn the latest in the world of wheat and enter for a chance to win a Go-Pro camera and other prizes. Commodity Classic is an annual convention and trade show of the wheat, corn, soybeans and sorghum industries. For a complete list of events at the upcoming NAWG annual meeting visit http://www.wheatworld.org/meetings-events/commodity-classic/

OSHA Removes Guidance for Small Farms
Since 1976 small farms with less than 10 workers have been except from regulatory enforcement conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Congress has included specific language for this exemption in appropriations bills, but in 2011 OSHA sent out a memo to all of its regions stating that “many of these small farm employers mistakenly assume that the appropriations rider prevents OSHA from conducting enforcement activities regardless of the type of operations performed on the farm.” Congress again included language in the omnibus spending measure passed in January of this year to reinstate that OSHA should not be improperly targeting small farms. OSHA has since pulled the 2011 memo from their website as Congress and various farm groups have been speaking up over the last couple of months that they believe OSHA’s inspections into these small farms were violating the long-standing ban. OSHA send a letter to the House Education and Workforce Committee stating that it will issue new guidance after consulting with USDA. NAWG will continue to monitor this issue and would encourage OSHA to continue their discussions with USDA in order to prevent the mistreatment of small farming operations.

USDA Announces Regional Climate Hubs
USDA announced seven regional “Climate Hubs” to address increasing risks such as fires, invasive pests, floods and droughts, which will translate science and research into resource management information for farmers. This announcement follows the President’s Climate Action Plan and commitment during the recent State of the Union Address where the President vowed to act on climate change. The Hubs will provide outreach and information to producers on ways to mitigate risks; public education about the risks climate change poses to agriculture, ranchlands and forests; and regional climate risk and vulnerability assessments. The Hubs will also partner with universities; non-governmental organizations, state departments of environment and agriculture; research centers; farm groups and other federal agencies. The Climate Hubs are:

  • Midwest: National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, Agricultural Research Service, Ames, Iowa; Midwest Sub-Hub in Houghton, Mich.
  • Northeast: Northern Research Station, Forest Service, Durham, N.H.
  • Southeast: Southern Research Station, Forest Service, Raleigh N.C.; Southeast Sub-Hub in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
  • Northern Plains: National Resources Center, Agricultural Research Service, Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Southern Plains: Grazinglands Research Lab, Agricultural Research Service, El Reno, Okla.
  • Pacific Northwest: Pacific Northwest Research Station, Forest Service, Corvallis, Ore.
  • Southwest: Rangeland Management Unit/Jornada Experimental Range, Agricultural Research Service, Las Cruces, N.M.; Southwest Sub-hub in Davis, Calif.

For more information, visit www.usda.gov/climatechange.

House Small Business Committee Talks Data Privacy
Brian Marshall, a Missouri farmer, testified before the House Committee on Small Business on data privacy in modern agriculture on Tuesday.  Marshall is a leader in the use of data in precision agriculture and expressed his concerns about how such data may be collected and used by others outside of his operation. He submitted the text of an American Farm Bureau Federation policy statement on proprietary data recently adopted at their annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas.  He also addressed a resolution supporting the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles in agriculture to collect data but with the consent of the landowner. The NAWG Research & Technology Committee addressed these issues during the 2014 Wheat Industry Winter Conference in Washington, DC and will continue the discussion at NAWG’s annual meeting at Commodity Classic the end of February.

Suggested Reading: “Farming Deserves More Respect”
Missouri Farm Bureau President, Blake Hurst, wrote an op-ed titled “Farming Deserves More Respect” which was published in the Kansas City Star last Friday. Visit the Kansas City Star’s website and check it out: http://www.kansascity.com/2014/02/07/4806326/farming-deserves-more-respect.html