Ryan Budget Calls for Deeper Cuts to SNAP and Farm Programs
On Wednesday the House Budget Committee marked-up the latest budget proposal from Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) which would cut $5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. Part of those cuts would come from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps. The Ryan proposal would block grant the SNAP program turning the authority over to the states, saving $125 billion over 10 years. The budget proposal would also eliminate some waivers from SNAP work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents and end the use of categorical eligibility that allows people to qualify for SNAP automatically if they have received some form of assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program. Both provisions were included in the nutrition only bill that was passed in the House last fall after their first attempt at passing an all inclusive farm bill failed, but the split farm bill proved to be a non-starter in the Senate. Ryan also calls for an additional $23 billion in cuts from agriculture spending in addition to the $23 billion in cuts already made this year through the 2014 farm bill. For more information on the Ryan Budget Proposal you can visit the House Budget Committee’s website here: http://budget.house.gov/fy2014/.
NAWG Participates in USDA Listening Session on Commodity Programs and Crop Insurance
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) held a listening session last Thursday so stakeholders could voice their concerns on the farm bill implementation process to the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Risk Management Agency (RMA). Registrants at the meeting and those that provided oral comments were also encouraged to submit a written copy of their comments at regulations.gov. For a full list of NAWGs comments visit http://www.wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/USDA-Comments-FSA-and-RMA-4-2-2014.pdf.
House Appropriations Committee Talks Biotechnology Product Approval Process
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspections Service (APHIS) Administrator Kevin Shea testified before the House Appropriations Committee agriculture subcommittee on Wednesday about the current backlog of pending petitions for biotechnology products. Shea told subcommittee members that USDA planned to have the backlog reduced by half within a year. In addition to Shea, witnesses included Ed Avalos, USDA undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs. Avalos commented that USDA was committed to reducing the current petition timeline, which many throughout the agriculture industry feel is too long and costly, putting growers from the U.S. at a disadvantage with competing nations that sometimes see products readily available in a more timely fashion. Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt (R- Ala.) also asked why the process to review petitions is so lengthy, stating that it took nearly 900 days to approve only eight products, and expressed concern that the “politics of biotech may be interfering the scientific review process.” While no biotech wheat is currently available for commercial use, NAWG remains committed to exploring the use of biotechnology as an option for U.S. wheat farmers. NAWG also supports industry efforts to ensure these safe and effective products continue to be readily available for use by America’s farmers. For more on NAWG’s policy, visit http://www.wheatworld.org/issues/biotech.
Research Fly-In Set for April 8-9
The 2014 National Wheat Improvement Committee Research Fly-In will be held in Washington, D.C. next Tuesday and Wednesday. The committee will discuss the importance of federally funded research through the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and land grant universities to support innovation in wheat. Participants will meet directly with the USDA officials as well as Congressional staff.
Syngenta Hosts Leadership Program for Wheat Growers
U.S. and Canadian wheat growers met last week in Minneapolis during the Leadership at Its Best program sponsored by Syngenta. Looking to expand on past collaboration between U.S. and Canadian wheat growers, Syngenta hosted grower leaders and wheat organization senior staff of various U.S. and Canadian wheat grower organizations. Topics included wheat issues from the consumer perspective, social media’s influence on wheat’s future, among others. NAWG president Paul Penner, second vice president Gordon Stoner, secretary-treasurer David Schemm and staff attended the event. Penner commented that the new format and issues discussion for this leadership development program enabled exceptional interaction with our Canadian counterparts, and included problem-solving exercises to address potential issues impacting all North American wheat growers.