NAWG Weekly Update: September 29, 2016

Congress Approves Continuing Resolution Keeping Government Open until December
After weeks of political wrangling, the Senate and House of Representatives acted on a continuing resolution to enable government operations to continue at largely FY 2016 levels until December 9, 2016.  When Congress acts on CRs, Congressional leaders will usually minimize the inclusion of any extraneous provisions.  The debate this time around centered around the inclusion of funding to combat the Zika virus, respond to flooding in Louisiana, and fix the water infrastructure system in Flint, MI following the lead contamination disaster. The question of how to address funding for Flint ended up being one of the last sticking points preventing completion of the CR.  Following a failed procedural vote in the Senate on Tuesday, House leadership agreed to allow for consideration of an amendment providing funding for Flint as part of Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).  With that step being taken, the CR was able to move forward through both the Senate and the House on Wednesday, ultimately meaning the government will not shut down come October 1.

With action on the CR now complete, this will set up the need for action on another CR or an omnibus appropriations bill during the Lame Duck session of Congress following the election.  NAWG is focused on a number of priorities in an omnibus appropriations bill, including ensuring there are no cuts to crop insurance or other areas of the Farm Bill, increased funding for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative (as was included in the House and Senate versions of the FY 2017 Agriculture Appropriations bill) and the Small Grains Genomic Initiative, limitations on funding for implementation of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, sufficient funding for FSA loan programs, and funding for a study required by the new GMO labeling law, among other priorities.

Senate Approves Seed Treaty
This week, the Senate ratified the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.  NAWG applauds the Senate’s action, as this Treaty would create a stable legal framework for international germplasm exchanges and allow for facilitation of access by public and private entities for the sharing of plant resources.  The Treaty was adopted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in 2001 and signed by the U.S. in 2002, but the Senate was also required to ratify the Treaty in order to enable the U.S. to participate in the framework.  Greater development with plant germplasms wills address crop insecurities from disease, pests, and climate, as well as improve crop yields and the continuing development of new crop varieties.  With food security as a high priority globally, the development of more resilient crop varieties with higher yields is crucial.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Releases Report on EPA and Army Corps
Last week, Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee released a Majority Committee report titled “From Preventing Pollution of Navigable and Interstate Waters to Regulating Farm Fields, Puddles and Dry Land: A Senate Report on the Expansion of Jurisdiction Claimed by the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Water Act”. The report illuminates elements of the staff’s investigation into how the EPA and the Corps interpret and implement policies in the Clean Water Act. The report found that the EPA and the Corps are overstepping their authority and asserting federal control over land and water based on concepts similar to the WOTUS rule that has been put on hold by courts. In releasing the report, Senator Inhofe said, “It’s time to work together to protect farmers, ranchers, water utilities, local governments and contractors by giving them the clarity and certainty they deserve and topping EPA and the Corps from eroding traditional exemptions.” NAWG opposes the WOTUS regulation and supports legislative efforts to require the regulation be revised.

Reminder: NAWG Seeks Nominations for Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow Program
As the Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow (WILOT) Program is fast approaching, NAWG is seeking nominations by our state associations of potential leaders to enroll. This program is sponsored and produced annually by Monsanto in partnership with the National Wheat Foundation and is targeted at producers who want to take on a greater role of leadership becoming more involved in their state wheat grower associations or by pursuing a position on the NAWG officer team. WILOT includes sessions on personal skills identification, establishing rapport with an uninformed public, and effectively engaging the public through new and traditional media outlets. Nominees should be current or up-and-coming farming leaders who currently hold leadership positions or those who aspire to, either within their state associations or with NAWG. Your nominations should include your nominee’s résumé and at least one paragraph sharing why they should be selected.  Please submit your nominations by Wednesday, October 5th.  In participating in WILOT, travel, hotel accommodations, and meals will be covered through the program. The program will take place in St. Louis, Mo, from November 13-18, 2016.

Reminder: Registration for NAWG Fall Conference
Registration is currently open for the NAWG Fall Conference, taking place in Denver, Colorado from Wednesday, Nov 2 to Saturday, November 5th. The final deadline to make your hotel reservations is October 12th, after which you will not be guaranteed a room or the conference rate. To register online, click here. To reserve your hotel room, click here. An agenda of the event is available on our website. As previously noted, Board Books this year will only be available electronically. If you have any questions, please contact the NAWG office.