President’s State of the Union Address Focuses on Trade
President Obama gave his sixth State of the Union speech to congress this week. The President briefly paid homage to his home state of Illinois for its “rich farmland”, although agriculture was not a central theme, and he proceeded to touch on a few issues relevant to wheat growers. Trade, as a major topic in the President’s State of the Union Address, drew praise from both Democrats and Republicans. POTUS asked both Republicans and Democrats to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to “protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t free, but fair.” With TPA passage, the timely advancement in trade talks, such as Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), would be possible.
The passage of TPA would help the eventual passage of two major trade deals currently being negotiated, the TPP with Asian-Pacific nations and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) with the European Union. NAWG supports comprehensive TPP and T-TIP agreements that would provide improved market access and would include ambitious language on modern trade issues. President Obama also encouraged congress to end the embargo with Cuba, a move that is supported by the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC), of which NAWG is a member, to improve agriculture trade between the two countries. He encouraged support of evidence-based science in climate change talks that, among many possible outcomes, could help with “dangerous droughts” and “hunger around the globe.” President Obama stated, “95 percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders, and we can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities.”
NAWG Comments on the Conservation Stewardship Program
This week NAWG submitted comments on the interim final rule for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). CSP was revised in the 2014 Farm Bill and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking official action to implement those changes. CSP is a popular program for wheat growers, but the administration of the program has been complicated by additional paperwork and requirements for participation. NAWG stressed the need to work with producers on the administrative requirements and to make sure there are additional conservation enhancements that producers can use in the program. NAWG’s comments can be found here.
NWF Responds to NPR Food Blog About Gluten-Free Diets
Last week, NPR’s food blog The Salt posted an article highlighting the negative externalities those who have joined the gluten-free diet craze are causing for those with celiac disease, who must avoid gluten regardless of preference. NWF responded to the issue on their blog, The Word on Wheat, agreeing that the fad diet has created a stigma for both the wheat industry and the one percent of the population who suffer from celiac disease. The misinformation that has been spread about gluten has led to negative connotations about the healthiness of wheat and wheat products. In fact, modern nutritional science has proven that wheat provides essential nutrients for a person’s diet, and is usually healthier than gluten-free meal options, which often add more fat, sugar and sodium to make up for the lack of consistency and taste. The full blog post can be read here.
Winter Wheat Conference in D.C. Next Week
Next week, wheat growers from across the country will convene for the annual Winter Wheat Conference in Washington, D.C. Meetings begin on Wednesday, Jan. 28, and conclude on Saturday, Jan. 31. The NAWG board meetings are held in conjunction with U.S. Wheat Associates at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill and will feature an array of committee meetings and policy discussions by the leadership and members of both organizations. Click here for more information on the meetings and to register.
Ranking Member Peterson Announces Democrat Membership
This week House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Colin Peterson announced the 19 democrats who will serve on the Committee in the 114th Congress. The members are:
- Collin Peterson (MN-7)
- David Scott (GA-13)
- Jim Costa (CA-16)
- Tim Walz (MN-1)
- Marcia Fudge (OH-11)
- Jim McGovern (MA-2)
- Suzan DelBene (WA-1)
- Filemon Vela (TX-34)
- Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1)
- Ann Kuster (NH-2)
- Rick Nolan (MN-8)
- Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
- Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18)
- Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-1)
- Pete Aguilar (CA-31)
- Stacey Plaskett (VI-AL)
- Alma Adams (NC-12)
- Gwen Graham (FL-2)
- Brad Ashford (NE-2)