NAWG Officers, Staff Attend Ag Rail Business Council Meeting in Fort Worth
The Ag Rail Business Council met this week in Fort Worth, Texas to continue dialogue between growers and rail executives and promote mutual education of both groups. Topics of discussion included perennial rail-related issues like service and rail-rates and interactions with the Surface Transportation Board (STB), the railroads’ regulator. The coalition was established by agriculture groups and BNSF Railway several years ago to promote dialogue between rail companies and shippers. It includes representatives from the major commodity organizations for growers of wheat, corn, soybeans and more. NAWG president Bing Von Bergen, a farmer from Montana, who attended the meeting with second vice president Brett Blankenship and NAWG staff, said “NAWG appreciates the opportunity to continue to take part in the Ag Rail Business Council. This open dialogue between farmers and their business partners in the rail industry helps both parties find common ground, as well as solutions, to problems facing agricultural shippers.” For more on NAWG’s transportation policy, visit http://www.wheatworld.org/issues/transportation/.
NAWG Staff Meet with APHIS on the Grain Value Chain
NAWG staff attended a meeting with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at the U. S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday. Kevin Shea, Administrator at APHIS talked about issues and priorities for all parts of the grain value chain. Administrator Shea said that APHIS is dedicated to promoting a healthy and profitable agricultural industry in the U.S., and wants to carry out its mission with input from stakeholders to ensure it is focusing its resources on areas that will continue to support key sectors. Key topics of discussion included non-tariff trade restrictions, including phytosanitary restrictions, the asynchronous regulation of biotech events around the globe and the lack of workable low level presence provisions for biotech traits in grains traded in the U.S. and other countries. Other groups in attendance were the American Soybean Association, North American Millers Association, National Sorghum Producers, United States Dry Beans Council, North American Export Grain Association, National Grain and Feed Association, USA Rice Federation and U.S. Wheat Associates.
NAWG Annual Meeting Held February 25-27
NAWG will be hosting its annual meeting in conjunction with Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas next week. 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, soybean and sorghum industries. For a complete list of events at the upcoming NAWG annual meeting visit http://www.wheatworld.org/meetings-events/commodity-classic/.
Farmers’ Access to Water Limited in California
USDA announced additional drought assistance to agricultural producers and rural communities in California as the state water resources department announced water restrictions for agriculture. The California Department of Water Resources announced at the end of January that 2014 water deliveries for those in the State Water Project (SWP) would be zero and that agriculture districts with long-standing water rights in the Sacramento Valley may be cut 50 percent. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources are also working on a petition to be able to exchange water within areas served by the SWP and the federal Central Valley Project. While in California last week, President Obama and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced livestock disaster assistance, conservation assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Emergency Watershed Program and funding from Rural Development’s Emergency Water Assistance Grants for communities experiencing water shortages. During his remarks on a farm in California last Friday, President Obama said, “These actions will help, but they’re just the first step. We have to be clear: A changing climate means that weather-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, floods are potentially going to be costlier and they’re going to be harsher.”
Agricultural Outlook Forum Kicks Off
The annual Agricultural Outlook Forum is being held today just outside of the district in Arlington, Va. Chief Economist at USDA, Joe Glauber, opened up the forum announcing adjustments to the short-term forecasts for corn, soybeans, wheat, rice and cotton. They are as follows: $3.90 a bushel for corn (from an estimated $4.50 for the 2013 crop); $9.65 a bushel for soybeans (down from $12.70); $5.30 a bushel for wheat (down from $6.80); $15.90 per hundredweight for rice (down from $16); and 68 cents per pound for cotton (down from 76 cents). Dr. Glauber also stated that U.S. agriculture exports are estimated at $142.6 billion for fiscal year 2014. The forum will continue tomorrow and will include remarks from both Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. For more information on the Agricultural Outlook Forum, visit USDA’s website at http://www.usda.gov/oce/forum/
UEP Breaks Deal with HSUS
The United Egg Producers (UEP) released a statement this week stating that they no longer plan to work with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in an effort to enact national cage standards. UEP president Chad Gregory stated,” With the farm bill now concluded, UEP can confirm that it has ceased efforts to pass the Egg Bill. UEP is now focused on exploring a range of options with the objective of delivering much-needed business certainty to America’s egg farmers.” Other livestock groups such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council were opposed to the egg bill due to concerns that it would set a national precedent and allow lawmakers to regulate all on-farm animal practices.