NAWG Weekly Updates, May 03, 2018

NAWG Attends Annual Kansas Wheat Quality Tour
This week, NAWG’s Coordinator of Federal Government Relations Craig Berning participated in the Hard Red Winter Wheat Quality Tour of Kansas. Hosted by the Wheat Quality Council, the tour left Manhattan on Monday, swinging west to the town of Colby on Tuesday and then south to Wichita on Wednesday, before ending back in Manhattan. As reported in Reuters, “the scouts’ average estimate of 2018 Kansas wheat production was 243.3 million bushels, down sharply from USDA’s actual production last year of 333.6 million and the smallest since 213.6 million in 1989.” Almost 80 people participated in this year’s tour, which was intended to educate members on the growth, development, yield, and quality of the Kansas wheat crop. Follow @wheatworld, @kansaswheat, and #WheatTour18 for photos and highlights from the event! 

Ag Industry Sends Crop Insurance Letter to House
On April 26, 2018, NAWG, along with 64 other agriculture groups, sent a letter to House members urging them to avoid crippling amendments to the crop insurance program if the Farm Bill reaches the House floor. In the letter, the ag groups urged House Members to oppose harmful amendments that would 1) reduce or limit participation in crop insurance, 2) make insurance more expensive for farmers during a time of economic downturn in agriculture, or 3) harm private-sector delivery. The letter can be found here. 

AgriPulse Releases Part Three of Six-Part Series on Trade
AgriPulse has posted part three of a six-part series of in-depth stories, called “Export or Bust?” dealing with the challenges and opportunities for U.S. agriculture to selling more commodities and value-added products to overseas customers. U.S. Wheat, National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), Washington Grain Commission, Idaho Wheat Commission and North Dakota Wheat Commission were co-sponsors of this article. Here is a link to the article, which includes a significant amount of background and quotes from USW and NAWG.

CBO Publishes Detailed Farm Bill Analysis
The Congressional Budget Office has published a detailed analysis of each title in the House Agriculture Committee’s Farm Bill. In short, CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2 would increase net direct spending by $3.2 billion over the 2019-2023 period and by $0.5 billion over the 2019-2028 period, relative to CBO’s baseline projections. As specified in law, those baseline projections incorporate the assumption that many expiring programs continue to operate after their authorizations expire in the same manner as they did before such expiration. The cost of extending those authorizations through 2023 would total $387 billion, but because they are already included in the baseline, those costs are not attributable to this bill. For a complete summary and to view the report, visit the CBO site here.

Conservative Groups Demand Farm Program Reforms.
As reported in AgriPulse, leading conservative organizations including Heritage Action and Club for Growth have come out with a letter critical of the House farm bill that could provide some momentum to amendments to roll back the sugar program or cut crop insurance. The letter says the bill “not only fails to make reforms to farm subsidies, but actually makes the subsidies even worse.” Additionally, the letter makes no mention of the bill’s food stamp reforms, which are designed in part to appeal to GOP conservatives who would otherwise want to cut commodity programs or crop insurance. Read more here.

USDA Issues Proposed Rule for Bioengineered-Ingredient Labeling
The USDA is now seeking public comment on the proposed rule for the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard that was mandated by Congress in 2016. The proposed rule, named, the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS), offers up definitions on what is considered a bioengineered ingredient, suggestions on how disclosure of those ingredients should occur, and the scope of exemptions available under the law. The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, which NAWG is a member, stated that “given the importance of ensuring the final rule is in place by the statutory deadline, the coalition will be analyzing the proposed rule and developing coordinated food and agricultural industry comments over the next 60 days. The coalition looks forward to providing the department with input that reflects the needs of consumers, farmers and the rest of the food value chain.”

The rule is open for comment for the next 60 days and comments can be submitted both online or mailed. Comments may be submitted online through the Federal eRulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov. Or may be mailed with the Docket Clerk at 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 4543-South, Washington, DC 20250; Fax: (202) 690-0338.

Actions Taken to Restrict Pesticide Use in Hawaii and EU
On April 27, the EU member states voted on a ban that will directly harm producers who utilize neonics. In a statement by Bayer, “the company remains convinced that the restrictions are not warranted, because neonicotinoids are safe when used in accordance with the label instructions…further this ban will reduce European farmers’ ability to tackle important pests, for many of which there are no alternative treatments available.”

On May 02, 2018, a similar ban on chlorpyrifo-based insecticides was implemented in Hawaii and is currently on its way to the governor to be signed into law. The ban was aimed to protect the overall health of the environment, but researchers have concluded that this ban will not improve the health of pollinators. 

NWF National Wheat Yield Contest: Winter Wheat Deadline – May 15! 
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 how to apply, visit https://yieldcontest.wheatfoundation.org/. The deadline for Winter Wheat submissions is May 15th!