NAWG Weekly Updates, March 22, 2018

House Has Votes to Pass Fiscal 2018 Omnibus; Next Steps
On March 21st Congressional leaders released the text of the FY 2018 omnibus appropriations bill which then passed in the House on Thursday, March 22nd with a vote of 256-167. The Senate could take up the Bill as early as Thursday but it remains to be seen how they will proceed and if there will be no objections to waiving time requirements. It’s possible their work could extend into the weekend.

The omnibus increased discretionary spending the ag component of the bill by $2.1 billion over the FY 2017 enacted level to $23.3 billion.  It includes several important agricultural research funding provisions that will be have significant implications for wheat farmers, including increases for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, the Small Grains Genomic Initiative, and falling numbers research.  Additionally, it maintains level funding for our Land Grant universities and Extension Service, and it provides a $25 million increase for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) competitive grants program.

It also rejects the President’s budget proposals that would’ve resulted in the closure of several Agricultural Research Service (ARS) facilities.  Beyond ag research, the omnibus also includes several other important provisions, including the continuation of a pilot program to give the Farm Service Agency (FSA) flexibility in setting yields for the ARC-County program; a modification of the Section 199A tax deduction to restore a similar competitive balance to what existed prior to the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act; a delay in enforcement of Electronic Logging Device (ELD) requirements through the end of FY 2018; and $600 million for a rural broadband pilot program to continue USDA’s efforts to build out access to rural areas.

The full omnibus text can be found here and the explanatory statement for the ag division can be found here.

PRESS RELEASE: Wheat Grower Organizations: Enforcing Trade Rules is Best Done Within the Rules
On March 22, 2018, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) issued a release highlighting our concerns about the implications of the Trump Administration’s decision to impose more than $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Read the joint release here.

PRESS RELEASE: National Wheat Improvement Committee (NWIC) Comes to Washington, D.C.
From March 18-20, 2018, wheat farmers and researchers from across the country flew in to discuss with Members of Congress and their staff the importance federal funding of research to the wheat industry. Researchers focused their remarks on the research priorities affecting wheat and funding needs, along with the 2018 Farm Bill’s Research Title. NWIC members had a meeting with the USDA ARS Administrator to learn more about the issues affecting the backfill of the large number of open positions from attrition and the Agency’s research needs and where researchers can help. The researchers also had a meeting with Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Read here the press release highlighting the Fly-in and research and appropriations priorities for wheat.

2018 National Agriculture Day: Food For Life!
Hosted by the Agriculture Council of America and celebrated by numerous communities across the country, Ag Day took place on March 20, 2018 and fell during National Ag Week, March 18-24, 2018. Ag Day recognizes and celebrates the abundance provided by agriculture. Every year, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America join together to recognize the contributions of agriculture. Read the National Wheat Foundation’s blog Thank A Farmer This Year on National Ag Day! and visit https://www.agday.org/ for more information.

NWF National Wheat Yield Contest: Winter Wheat Early Registration, April 1
The National Wheat Foundation’s (NWF) annual National Wheat Yield Contest continues to drive innovation in the industry by spotlighting the best practices among American wheat growers. In its third year, the contest added a quality requirement, raising the bar for what constitutes the greater grain among U.S. wheat growers. For more information on contest guidelines, deadlines and prizes, visit https://wheatfoundation.org/rules-and-registration/Enroll in the winter wheat early registration by April 1, 2018