NAWG Weekly Update: September 18, 2014

NAWG Supports STB Reauthorization Bill
Senators Jay Rockefeller (D- W.V.) and John Thune (R- S.D), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, brought forth a bill last week, S. 2777, that provides for reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Board (STB), the regulatory body for railways and other interstate transportation. The bill, which was endorsed by NAWG, would offer more authority to the STB to investigate rail shipper complaints. “[This] legislation represents an important and necessary step in making it possible for agricultural and other users of freight rail service to secure the meaningful, intended safeguards and protections embodied in the Staggers Rail Act of 1980,” the letter states.“ It went through Senate Commerce Committee markup on Wednesday and was passed with a voice vote. To read a letter sent to the committee by various agriculture groups, including NAWG, click here.

NAWG Attends NRC Committee Meeting on GE Crops
NAWG president, Paul Penner and staff attended the public meeting of the National Research Council’s (NRC) Committee on Genetically Engineered (GE) Crops in Washington, D.C. this week. The two-day event was held to consider the “Past Experience and Future Prospects” of GE crops. The NRC, a unit of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), has empaneled the Committee to conduct “A Science-Based Look at Genetically Engineered Crops”. To be completed in early 2016, the study will examine the history of GE crops in the U.S. and internationally, assess their purported negative and positive benefits, review environmental and food safety assessments and explore new developments and opportunities in GE crops.

Following the presentations, the public was allowed to provide comments. Several farmers representing corn and soybeans spoke in person and via telephone about the importance of GE crops in their farming operations. While there is no GE wheat grown commercially, NAWG supports the advancement of biotech traits and other breeding advancements in wheat. Additional public meetings are scheduled for December 10-11, 2014 and March 4-5, 2015, along with webinars in October and November. NAWG appreciates the opportunity to participate in this discussion and looks forward to the continued conversation.

EQIP Deadline Approaching
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state offices announced application deadlines for the 2015 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications are being accepted at all USDA Service Centers. EQIP funds can help farmers hire crop consultants to help them develop farm plans identifying opportunities to protect natural resources including Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which can cut pesticide costs, protect pollinators, and improve yields and quality. Click here for more information on your state EQIP program.

WILOT Nominations Due Friday, Sept. 19
An important National Wheat Foundation (NWF) leadership training program nomination deadline is tomorrow Friday, Sept. 19. The Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow (WILOT) Program, provided by generous support from Monsanto, will be held from Saturday, Nov. 15 through Thursday, Nov. 20, in St. Louis, Mo. This program provides potential state wheat grower leaders, or current state or national board members who are considering future national organization leadership, with an intensive training program. Training covers a wide variety of topics such as personality awareness, leadership techniques, media and advocacy training, and what’s ahead in wheat research. Click here to access the tentative 2014 WILOT agenda. Again, nominations are due to Jinger Eberspacher ( tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 19. The application can be accessed here.

Cargill Files Suit Against Syngenta
Cargill Inc. filed a lawsuit last Friday against Syngenta over losses stemming from China’s rejection of genetically modified corn for “negligence” in selling U.S. farmers a genetically modified seed that had not yet been approved for import in China. China has rejected boatloads of U.S. corn since November due to the presence of Syngenta’s trait called Agrisure Viptera or MIR 162, which makes the corn resistant to insects. Cargill claims it lost $90 million as a result of Syngenta not first obtaining import approval from China. Syngenta began selling the MIR 162 seed in 2010 after gaining approval from the U.S. China has been considering an application to approve the variety for four years. Syngenta has stated this lawsuit has “no merit.”

Pass the Breadsticks
Taking advantage of breadsticks in the news, NAWG has posted the following information on Facebook to help people learn more about wheat:

Who doesn’t love breadsticks? These tasty snacks have been in the news a lot so how about putting fresh-baked mouthwatering breadsticks on your dinner table tonight? Try these “Better than Olive Garden Breadsticks” – Your family is sure to enjoy them, and you can have all you want! The nation’s wheat farmers want you to know that breadsticks are made from hard red spring wheat and hard red winter wheat grown in the central U.S. from North Dakota all the way down to Texas.