NAWG Weekly Update: July 16, 2015

NAWG Participates in U.S. Wheat Board, Joint Committee Meetings
NAWG leaders and staff were in San Diego, Calif., this week for U.S. Wheat Associates’ summer board meeting and meetings of the Joint Biotech Committee (JBC) and the Joint International Trade Policy Committee (JITPC).  During the JBC meeting, Committee members heard from USW and NAWG staff about a range of pending issues, including updates concerning biotech labeling legislation before Congress and the potential treatment of biotech in trade negotiations. The JITPC heard updates about other countries’ domestic support programs, Trade Promotion Authority, the status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, efforts to expand agricultural trade with Cuba, the reauthorization of the Grain Standards Act, and the status of other pending trade issues. NAWG CEO Jim Palmer also provided the USW Board with a briefing on NAWG’s National Wheat Yield Contest and other recent advocacy work.

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act Mark Up
This week the House Agriculture Committee held a mark up on HR 1599, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015. During the business meeting Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) said, “Creating a uniform national policy regarding biotechnology labeling is the free market solution that will allow consumers access to meaningful information, create market opportunities for those on the production and processing side, and will facilitate future innovation.” The short mark up passed a substitute amendment to the original bill, which now identifies greater coordination between FDA and USDA and creates further transparency that would create a national federal labeling standard. NAWG supports timely passage of the bill as it creates a uniform, science-base labeling standard.

USDA Makes CRP Announcement
This week USDA released a regulation to implement changes to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) required in the 2014 Farm Bill. The changes to CRP include:

  • Lowering the overall acreage cap to 24 million acres
  • The elimination of a financial penalty for emergency haying and grazing
  • Altering the frequency of routine haying and grazing to allow for not more than once every two years with a 25 percent payment reduction
  • The addition of new provisions for incidental grazing
  • Allowing for certain conservation and land improvements in the final year of a CRP contract
  • Continuation of the CRP Transition Incentives Program

The Farm Bill also included a grasslands provision to allow for up to 2 million acres of grassland added under the CRP cap. Enrollment for the new grassland option bill begins on September 1, 2015 with the first ranking period on November 20. USDA previously announced a CRP general sign-up to be held from December 1, 2015 to February 26, 2016. Comments will be accepted for 60 days. NAWG will work within the Environment and Renewable Energy Committee to develop comments on the CRP program.

Growers Affected by Vomitoxin, Proper Reporting Essential to Crop Insurance Eligibility
Harvest season is in full swing for much of the country’s wheat growers. This year’s added precipitation has made disease more prominent in many wheat-growing states including Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, high levels of vomitoxin may result in either a discount in price or the requirement to destroy the grain.

RMA urges producers to always report any damage within the required timeframes and seek advice from your insurance company before proceeding with harvest or destruction of the damaged crop. Crop insurance policies require that you notify your company within 72 hours of noticing a loss. If you carry crop insurance policies subsidized or reinsured by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation you may be eligible for quality loss adjustments if the reason for the loss in value is due to a covered event, such as the excessive precipitation received this spring. More information, provided by RMA can be found here.

The Truth About Glyphosate: How Do Wheat Growers Use Glyphosate?
The National Wheat Foundation is doing a series of blogs, titled “The Truth About Glyphosate”, sharing the facts about glyphosate and its use in wheat. This week the first part of the series was posted on The Word on Wheat blog. While there are many false claims about glyphosate and its safety, the truth is regulatory and scientific authorities worldwide have concluded that glyphosate, when used according to label directions, does not pose an unreasonable risk to human health, the environment, or non-target animals and plants. The herbicide has a 40-year history of managing weeds for farmers in many crops around the world.

So, what is glyphosate?

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in many  “non-selective” herbicide formulations used to control weeds. What does “non-selective” mean? A non-selective herbicide controls most plants while a selective herbicide is designed to control specific types of plants. Non-selective herbicides are used to control weeds before crop planting. In the wheat industry, for example, it means that if a grower were to apply glyphosate to growing wheat, the wheat plant will die; therefore, most wheat acres do not receive a glyphosate application during the growing season since growers do everything they can to keep the plant alive and healthy.

Broadly speaking, glyphosate use is limited in the wheat industry, if even used at all in some wheat fields. In fact, it is applied to less than 30 percent of wheat acres in the U.S., according to an independent consumer research firm, GfK. While farmers of other crops may use glyphosate more in their operations, the application rate and use of glyphosate in wheat is dependent on other production methods, such as no-till and minimum till planting systems. Read the full blog here.