NAWG Weekly Updates, July 26, 2018

NAWG Attends 2018 Ag Transportation Summit
From July 25-26, NAWG VP of Policy and Communications Josh Tonsager attended the 2018 Ag Transportation Summit hosted by NGFA and the Soy Transportation Coalition and supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service. The 2018 Summit focused on “Connecting Growing Supply with Growing Demand” and featured panels highlighting port and rail issues, speakers from USDA and Surface Transportation Board (STB), and several “Innovation Sessions” focusing on new and emerging technologies.

NAWG and U.S. Wheat Exhibit at MD Commodity Classic
On Thursday, July 26th, wheat exhibited at the 20th Annual Maryland Commodity Classic which took place at Queen Anne’s 4-H park. The event is hosted by the Maryland Grain Producers Association, Maryland Soybean Board, Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, and Mid-Atlantic Soybean Association. NAWG’s Director of Communications Caitlin Eannello and USW’s VP of Communications Steve Mercer had a joint table at event. Additionally, Bill Northey, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, served as keynote for Classic.

USDA Announces Tariff Aid For Farmers
Secretary Sonny Perdue announced on Wednesday, July 24 that the USDA will be taking critical actions to provide aid for farmers during the ongoing trade war. In his statement, Purdue argued that the Trump administration is continuing to work toward better trade deals abroad and that the aid programs will help affected farmers in the meantime. The program funding will total up to $12 billion that USDA announced will go to help farmers compete in trade markets. The funding will go to three different programs: the Market Facilitation Program, Food Purchase and Distribution Program and the Trade Promotion Program. Each are designed to help offset the estimated $11 billion impact of retaliatory tariffs on US agricultural products.

NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates issued a joint release in response to this announcement. In the release, NAWG and USW state that it appreciates the Administration recognizing the damaging effects of the tariffs but that this relief package is only a temporary solution and that we need to end the trade war with China. Growers stress that they want new export markets and trade deals, not federal aid.

USTR Lighthizer Testifies in Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing
On Thursday, July 26, the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. Lightizer spoke to the Administration’s plans regarding NAFTA and the ongoing trade war with China. The hearing focused on retaliatory tariffs from China, Mexico, Canada, and the European Union. President Trump shared in an interview on Friday with CNBC that the trade war could get worse before it gets better.

EU Rules Mutagenesis is GMO
This week the European Union’s Court of Justice has ruled that the use of mutagenesis as a form of plant breeding will be subject to rules and regulations for GMOs. The ruling comes as a success for environmental groups, but a disappointment to agricultural producers, plant breeders, and researchers. The use of mutagenesis has the potential to enhance the nutrition components of agricultural products and provide enhancements in not only plant disease resistance, but also modern healthcare solutions. Biotech companies and agricultural groups argue that the ruling makes plant genetic regulations even less clear. In addition, they push that the new ruling hinders innovation for research on food and health systems moving forward. ASTA’s press statement can be found here. 

NRCS Changes Swampbuster Rules
The National Resources Conservation Service is planning to release changes to the Swampbuster rules within the next few weeks. Under the current rules from the 1985 Farm Bill, there is concern for farmers who could crop insurance payments if they convert wetlands into production. Some of the changes by NRCS include updating hydrology criteria and the certification of wetlands that were determined in between 1990 and 1996. Officials with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service are telling stakeholder groups that wetlands determinations won’t be significantly affected by an interim final rule that the department is preparing to implement.

National Wheat Yield Contest: Spring Wheat Category
As the 2018 National Wheat Yield Contest spring wheat deadline quickly approaches on August 1, the National Wheat Foundation is encouraging wheat growers to aim higher and register their crop in this year’s contest. Think your spring wheat harvest might be a bin buster? Don’t forget you can submit more than one entry to the contest for the chance to become a nationally recognized grower!

Now that your wheat has emerged and is off and running, consider, register before August 1 to be in it to win it! Visit wheatfoundation.org for more details and to register today.

USDA’s 2017 Ag Census
One Week Left To Complete The 2017 Census Of Agriculture: The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) officially ends data collection for the 2017 Census of Agriculture on July 31. Farmers and ranchers, every response is important – even if it’s just to say that you are no longer involved in farming. The Census of Agriculture, conducted once every five years, provides the only source of comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation. The stronger the data, the better informed future decisions can be. Each response is a representation of not only your individual farm or ranch but your industry and community, too. Remember, NASS is required by law – Federal law, Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113 – to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and to only publish data in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation. Though the deadline for the paper questionnaire has passed, you can still complete the census questionnaire securely online at www.agcensus.usda.gov or by calling toll-free (888) 424-7828 through July 31. Data release is planned for February 2019.