NAWG Weekly Updates, February 19, 2019

House Passes Continuing Resolution Keeping Federal Government Funded Through November
On September 18, 2019, House Leadership finalized language for a continuing resolution (CR) that would extend existing agency funding through November 21, 2019, averting a shutdown on October 1, 2019. In its update to the states, NAWG noted that “leaders did include language to refill the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) for funds spent through September 17th. It will also be required that USDA report to Congress by October 31st on numerous things including estimates for all Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments in calendar year 2018 and 2019, as well as projected payments in 2020 from this year’s program that includes an estimate of payments on a state-by-state and commodity-by-commodity basis, as well as an analysis of the trade damage caused by retaliatory tariffs and separately by non-tariff trade barriers, including dumping, on U.S. farmers, and an accounting of any commodity purchases made from substantially foreign-owned companies/subsidiaries.”

On September 19, 2019, the House Committee on Rules approved a closed rule for the CR and then later in the day the entire House body passed the continuing resolution with a vote of 301-123.

Senate Appropriations Committee Advances Ag Spending Bill
On Thursday, September 19, 2019, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill by a vote of 31-0. The legislation, which will support federal agriculture and nutrition programs in FY2020, recommends $151.7 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding. The discretionary funding in the bill totals $23.1 billion, $58 million above the FY2019 enacted level.

There are a number important provisions included in the Senate Ag Approps bill, including several victories for NAWG’s priorities. In particular, the bill includes an increase for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative of $5.5 million, which would essentially bring total funding to the fully authorized level of $15 million. This is a big deal as Congress has not to date fully funded the program. Additionally, the bill includes a $1 million increase for the Small Grains Genomic Initiative, which was also one of NAWG’s main funding priority for this year.

House Ag Subcommittees Hold Joint Hearing to Review Federal Farm and Disaster Programs
On Thursday, September 19, 2019, the House Committee on Agriculture General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee and Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee jointly held a hearing to review the implementation of federal farm and disaster programs for the producers of America. Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary of Farm Production and Conservation, was the sole witness for the hearing. Northey focused his testimony and responses on the Dairy Margin Coverage Program (DMCP) and how WHIP+ and similar programs are utilized by producers. While the majority of the hearing focused on dairy producing communities, another major focus was the effects and use of crop insurance and WHIP+. Throughout the hearing, Secretary Northey encouraged representatives to urge their producers to participate in programs like WHIP+ so that they can gain access to their safety net program.

Former Agriculture Secretaries Announce Support for USMCA
Today, USDA issued a release announcing “all former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture since President Reagan’s Administration announced support for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).” In a letter to Congressional leaders, former Secretaries John Block (Reagan), Mike Espy (Clinton), Dan Glickman (Clinton), Ann Veneman (W. Bush), Mike Johanns (W. Bush), Ed Shafer (W. Bush), and Tom Vilsack (Obama) underscored the importance of passing USMCA saying, “We need a strong and reliable trade deal with our top two customers for U.S. agriculture products. USMCA will provide certainty in the North American market for the U.S. farm sector and rural economy. We strongly support ratification of USMCA.”

NASS releases 2017 Census of Agriculture Code Tabulations
On September 18, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its 2017 Census of Agriculture data tabulated by zip code, which can be accessed through Quick Stats, NASS’ online data query tool. This data source will allow for more information to be made accessible. Zip codes are the latest addition, but users can also review data summaries at the national, state, county, congressional district, watershed, and American Indian reservation level. On October 1, 2019, other data variables, race, ethnicity, and Gender profiles, will be released.

US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA)’s Podcast Adds New Episodes
If you have not yet taken the time to listen to USFRA’s podcast, Farm, Food, Facts, join the 4,000 other subscribers that have! The weekly podcast featured several dynamic guests in August. Feel free to share the podcast on your social channels, and encourage others in your organization to listen. The podcast can be found on Spotify, iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher and Buzzsprout, or ask Amazon’s Alexa to play the Farm, Food, Facts podcast.

Registration and Housing Officially Open for the 2019 NAWG/USW Fall Conference
Registration and housing have officially opened for the 2019 NAWG/USW Fall Conference. This year’s conference will take place at the Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Hotel in Santa Fe, NM., from Monday, November 4 through Wednesday, November 6, 2019. To reserve your room under the NAWG Block click here. To register for the meeting, visit USW’s page here. For more details, including NAWG’s meeting schedule, visit our conference page here.