House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Talks 2015 Budget
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack testified last Friday before the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department’s 2015 budget. The discussion focused mainly on food—school meals, food stamps and food safety. Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt urged the Secretary to consider temporary waivers for school meal operators who need more time to meet new nutrition rules that have proven to be costly. The Secretary stated that only 10 percent of school meal providers seem to be struggling, a comment that the Chairman did not agree with. The Department is requesting close to $20 billion in discretionary funding, which the subcommittee has control over. USDA also proposes $122.4 billion in mandatory funding in which $104.7 billion of that is spent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps. The House will work towards passing the agriculture appropriations bill along with other appropriations sometime this summer.
Revised Agricultural Worker Protection Standard Released by EPA
On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Worker Protection Standard regulation was printed in the Federal Register, starting the official 90 day comment period. In February, EPA posted summary documents on their website outlining proposed updates to the 20 year old regulation regarding pesticide application. Some of the new requirements include mandatory pesticide safety training every year (currently every 5 years), no entry buffer areas of 25-100 feet, posting warning signs around treated areas, mandatory record keeping for two years, and making information regarding pesticide application available to farm workers or their advocates. These proposed changes are the first since the regulation was changed in 1992 and subsequently went into effect in 1995. NAWG is preparing comments on this regulation. The full proposal can be viewed at https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-04761. Fact sheets are available on EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/safety/workers/proposed/index.html. Comments must be received on or before June 17, 2014.
Collin Peterson to Run for Reelection
On Monday House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson made a formal announcement that he will run for reelection in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District. This put to rest speculation that the Congressman would not seek reelection once the farm bill was passed and signed into law. Congressman Peterson has been a stalwart in Congress for agriculture policy for over 20 years. His ability to work with those in his own party and across the aisle was instrumental in not only passing the 2014 farm bill but many farm bills before it. Congressman Peterson has always been a friend of wheat and NAWG is fully supportive of his reelection.
MAP and FMD Support Critical Market Access Abroad
With at least half of U.S. wheat now exported, international market development is vitally important to U.S. wheat farmers. A Cornell University study in 2010 showed that between 2002 and 2007, farmers received a net return of $23 in higher farm gate prices for every $1 spent on export market development. USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) helps finance activities to market and promote U.S. agriculture commodities and products worldwide. The USDA Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) provides cooperator organizations, including U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), with cost-share funding for activities that build international demand for U.S agricultural commodities. With funding from 19 state wheat commissions and the USDA market development programs, USW develops, maintains and expands international markets to enhance the profitability of U.S. wheat growers and their customers. NAWG works with USW on various programs to benefit U.S. wheat farmers and continues to advocate for MAP and FMD in Congress. For more information, visit http://www.wheatworld.org/issues/trade/.
Ag Day Wheat Highlights
Ag Day will be celebrated on March 25th to recognize the contributions of agriculture and to increase public awareness of agriculture’s vital role in our society. Below are a couple Ag Day events. For a full list of Washington, D.C. events visit http://agday.org/media/pr14.php.
- National Premiere of The Great American Wheat Harvest: The national premiere of the documentary, The Great American Wheat Harvest, will be shown on Ag Day, March 25, at the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C. For tickets to the premiere visit http://www.greatamericanwheatharvest.com/.
- Dr. Norman Borlaug Statue Unveiling: March 25 marks the 100-year anniversary of Dr. Norman Borlaug’s birth. The State of Iowa will be unveiling a 7-ft. bronze statue of Dr. Borlaug donated to the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Dr. Borlaug’s research on wheat, including development of new wheat varieties and improved crop management, greatly improved wheat production. The statue dedication ceremony will take place on Tues., March 25 at 11:00 a.m. EST. Due to limited space at the statue unveiling ceremony; it will be webcast live at http://www.speaker.gov/live.