NAWG Weekly Updates, December 12, 2019

PRESS RELEASE: After Nearly 40 Years, NAWG Relocates While Remaining on Capitol Hill
On December 11, 2019, NAWG announced that after nearly 40 years it will be moving to a new location on Capitol Hill. The National Wheat Foundation (NWF), NAWG’s educational counterpart, has owned the current building since 1978, and NAWG has been its tenant for nearly that long. NWF has decided to sell the building to keep pace with NAWG’s rising presence on Capitol Hill. The Association will be moving on January 4, 2020 and complete details of its official location will be announced in early January 2020.

JOINT PRESS RELEASE: Signing Moves USMCA Towards Benefits for U.S. Wheat Growers
“Signing of the renegotiated U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) is a welcome step toward a final agreement that will provide much needed reassurance for wheat growers,” stated the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) in a recent joint press release. The organizations thanked “U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for his steadfast efforts throughout USMCA development process as well as Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, and Lighthizer for working with Speaker Pelosi and other Congressional leadership to find a path forward.”

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on this final trade deal by the end of this year, and based on Senate Majority Leaders Mitch McConnell’s recent comments, the Senate will vote on the trade deal early in the new year.

NAWG Attends and Participates in NWIC
From December 9-11, 2020, NAWG Vice President Dave Milligan, NAWG Government Relations Representative Jake Westlin, and NWF’s National Wheat Yield Contest Director Steve Joehl attended the 2019 National Fusarium Head Blight Forum and National Wheat Improvement Committee (NWIC) meetings in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Each year the forum is visited by scientists, graduate students, growers, and industry representatives from around the world and provide in-depth updates on efforts to reduce the impact of Fusarium Head Blight (scab) on wheat and barley. Following the forum, NWIC members from the public and private research community, and stakeholder community, gathered to discuss drafting a Wheat Resiliency Initiative that reflects regional challenges facing wheat growers and research funding priorities to highlight during the spring 2020 Congressional hill visits.

Wheat, Sorghum and Rice Growers Observe the Value of Food Aid Programs in East Africa
Last month NAWG Treasurer Nicole Berg and NAWG Trade Policy Advisor Molly O’Connor visited Kenya and Tanzania to review food assistance programs. “Of the more than 1.9 million metric tons (MMT) of international food commodities the United States donated in 2018/19, more than 800,000 MT of it was high-quality milling wheat. Given the important role U.S. agriculture plays in supporting the neediest people around the world, farmers representing U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), U.S. Grains Council (USGC), and USA Rice spent 14 days in Kenya and Tanzania in November to see how donation programs help improve lives.” Read more about the trip in U.S. Wheat Associates Wheat Letter this week.

Food Assistance Programs Highlighted in the House
This week the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture held a hearing on “The Implementation of Farm Bill International Food Assistance and Development Programs.” Witnesses include the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) Administrator Ken Isley, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Director of Food for Peace (FFP), Trey Hicks. During the hearing there was broad bipartisan support for the use of commodities in Food for Peace, Food for Progress and McGovern-Dole and concern on the level of commodities currently being purchased in a time of historic need.

On December 5, 2019, Reps. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), David Rouzer (R-N.C.), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio), and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) introduced a resolution commending the Federal Food for Peace program, recognizing the ongoing humanitarian need in conflict areas around the globe, and calling for the continued prioritization of funding for Food for Peace programs. Through the encouragement of these programs, more American crops like wheat, corn, and rice, will be put to use for the sake of countries in need, which will promote a presence of American generosity, and ensure amicable relationships with our international neighbors.

Letter Supporting Port of Galveston Federal Channel at 45 Feet of Draft
On December 9, 2019, NAWG joined several other organizations in issuing a letter to Colonel Vail, USACE Galveston District Commander, encouraging the support of maintaining the 45-foot navigation Channel that connects the Port of Galveston to the Gulf of Mexico. In the letter, the organizations state that, “the Port of Galveston is critical to the success of our firms and members. The port facilitates the shipment of grain, containers, and automobiles and is also the #4 cruise terminal in the U.S. The Port of Galveston is attractive for grain exports from major grain producing regions of the U.S. because railroad connections from farming regions to the port allow grain to be quickly and efficiently sourced, shipped and handled. In the case of grain, exports quickly become uneconomic from Galveston when draft levels fall below 45 feet. This has repercussions for farmers up the agricultural value chain. Maintaining a depth of 45 feet is imperative to ensure the economic vitality for all port users and for the farmers that directly benefit by exports from the Port of Galveston.” For a copy of the complete letter, email NAWG Federal Government Relations Representative Jake Westlin (jwestlin@wheatworld.org).

Farm Journal Article Highlighting Organization’s Roles in Conversation
Farm Journal recently highlighted eight agricultural organizations who have made sustainability and conservation practices, that steward both soil and water, a cornerstone of their respective industries. NAWG is highlighted in the piece which looks at the organization’s success and endeavors they currently have underway.

2020 Joint USW/NAWG Winter Conference
The 2020 Joint NAWG/USW Winter Conference is scheduled for Monday, January 12th through Friday, January 17th at the Grand Hyatt Washington located in downtown Washington, D.C. For details on how to register and book housing, visit NAWG’s site here.

Additionally, “Wheat 104” has been scheduled for Thursday, January 16, 2019 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST IN United States Kennedy Caucus room (Russell 325). The Secretary of Agriculture and chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees have also been invited for a special preview of the event at 3:30 p.m. EST.

NWF Scholarship Opportunity for Ag Students – Deadline December 31st!
The National Wheat Foundation is still accepting applications for the Jerry Minore Scholarship. The scholarship opportunity is made available to both high school and college students pursuing a career in agriculture for the 2020-2021 academic year, the deadline for the application is December 31, 2019. This year the Foundation will be issuing two scholarships for $2,500 each. For more details on the scholarships and testimonials from previous winners, check out our latest blog here.

Commodity Classic Housing and Registration
Registration and housing for the 2020 Commodity Classic opened Wednesday, Nov. 13 at CommodityClassic.com. Early bird discounts on registration end January 9, 2020 and additional deadlines can be found here: https://commodityclassic.com/registration. States should send their housing requests to Caitlin Eannello at ceannello@wheatworld.org by Wednesday, December 18, 2019.