NAWG Weekly Update: April 2, 2015

Wheat Leaders Attend 2015 ABA Convention 
This week, NAWG President Brett Blankenship and NAWG CEO Jim Palmer attended the 2015 American Bakers Association (ABA) convention in Orlando, Fla. This year’s convention, “The Power of Baking,” focused on leadership and hosted record attendance with over 500 registered attendees. The annual event brings together bakers, retailers, suppliers and partner organizations to learn about the latest trends, develop positions on baking issues and connect with industry colleagues. “Attending events like this with our industry partners at ABA is very important in developing stronger relationships with our colleagues along the grain chain. I appreciate ABA allowing us to join them this year,” said Blankenship. “I appreciate ABA presenting NAWG the opportunity to listen to the industry’s concerns and share our common goals. Enhancing NAWG’s domestic profile is vital to our economic and political success.” Click here for more information on ABA and the convention.

USDA Issues “Actively Engaged” Proposed Rule 
On March 26, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a proposed rule that would make changes to determining whether a farmer is “actively engaged” in a farming operation for purposes of farm program eligibility, as was required in the 2014 Farm Bill.

According to the announcement from USDA, “Under the proposed rule, non-family joint ventures and general partnerships must document that their managers are making significant contributions to the farming operation, defined as 500 hours of substantial management work per year, or 25 percent of the critical management time necessary for the success of the farming operation. Many operations will be limited to only one manager who can receive a safety-net payment. Operators that can demonstrate they are large and complex could be allowed payments for up to three managers only if they can show all three are actively and substantially engaged in farm operations. The changes specified in the rule would apply to payment eligibility for 2016 and subsequent crop years for Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, loan deficiency payments, and marketing loan gains realized via the Marketing Assistance Loan program.” The rest of the announcement can be read here. Additionally, the text of the rule can be found at this link.

The comment period on the proposed rule is open until May 26, 2015. NAWG is reviewing the text, and we would be happy to get your input. If you would like to submit your own comments, instructions for doing so are outlined in the rule.

NAWG Hires Oakes as Director of Operations
NAWG announced this week the addition of Brian Oakes as the director of operations to the wheat growers’ team. Oakes will assist in office management and coordination, and will work closely with the policy team to execute wheat policy strategy. Oakes was most recently with FLM+ Public Affairs where he worked directly with Washington, D.C., based clients. Oakes also served as an intern for Representative Ken Calvert (CA-42) and worked for Governor Romney’s campaign in 2012. Oakes received his bachelor’s degree in political science/international relations from the University of California San Diego. He can be contacted at Welcome, Brian!

John Deere and Monsanto Additional Industry Partners for Yield Contest
The National Wheat Foundation’s new National Wheat Yield Contest (NWYC) has two additional industry partners for its inaugural year. In addition to primary industry partner and sponsor BASF, both John Deere and Monsanto have agreed to serve as additional industry partner sponsors in 2015. The NWYC will kickoff with the planting of the 2015/2016 winter wheat crop this fall. While several wheat-growing states conduct their own yield contests, there has not been a national competition since 1993. The objectives of the NWYC include knowledge transfer between wheat-grower peers, encouraging the adoption of wheat technologies currently available, strengthening the position of wheat in overall U.S. crop rotations and ensuring U.S. wheat growers’ position as a sufficient and reliable supplier of wheat to meet a growing global need. Competition rules and protocols will be announced later this spring or early summer.

The Word On Wheat: Wheat Advocate Starts Blog/Podcast Series “Where Does My Food Come From?”
Wheat Advocate program participant and farm wife from Montana, Shauna Farver, recently started a new blog/podcast series to put a face and a personal story behind production agriculture. In her series “Where Does my Food Come From?” she has been sitting down with farmers from across the nation to ask them questions about their operations and agribusinesses to shine some light on the truth behind the farm-to-fork story.

In her latest part of the series, Shauna talks with Mark and Jenny Rohrich of North Dakota. The Rohrichs grow wheat and other crops on their family farm. They discuss some of the challenges they face as well as how their wheat product is planted, harvested and transported to the local elevator. They are also contributing to the industry in big ways off the farm. The husband and wife duo are partners in an agronomy business, Maverick Ag, and Jenny is an active advocate for agriculture on her blog, Prairie Californian. Listen to the Rohrich’s story and follow the great work of the NWF Wheat Advocates here:

Follow more from the NWF Blog “The Word on Wheat” at