NAWG Weekly Updates, May 17, 2018

PRESS RELEASE: NAWG Weighs in on Amendments to the 2018 House Farm Bill
In anticipation of floor debate around proposed amendments to the 2018 Form Bill, NAWG sent a letter to the House stating its positions on relevant amendments. In the letter, NAWG calls attention to a few amendments and notably opposes Congressman Tom McClintock’s (R-CA) Amendment #93 which would phase out the farm safety net, including federal crop insurance, the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program, the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program, and sugar policy. Additionally, NAWG voiced opposition towards Congresswoman Virginia Foxx’s (R-NC) Amendment #32 which cuts the sugar program, ultimately outsourcing U.S. sugar jobs to subsidized foreign industries. Read the press release in its entirety here.

NAWG CEO Attends Evening Parade at Marine Barracks
Last week, NAWG CEO Chandler Goule attended the Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks hosted by the Assistant Commandant. Special guests included the Secretary of Defense James Mattis, White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly, and 2018 Miss America Cara Mund (North Dakota). Goule spoke to General Kelly on how NAWG represents the collective voice of wheat growers on Capitol Hill and to the Administration. He also spoke on the important role growers play in the agriculture economy.

House Appropriations Approves Agriculture Spending Bill
On Wednesday, May 16, 2018 the House Appropriations committee passed the 2019 fiscal Agriculture spending bill. The bill was passed 31-20 as currently amended. The bill, increased $14 million from last year, leads a $23.27 billion dollar discretionary budget for the fiscal year, higher than requested by the administration. In total, the bill provides $145.09 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding which is down $922 million from the previous fiscal year. Bill text can be found here and highlights are here.- different font then the rest.

NAWG Board of Director Testifies to USTR on the Devastating Impacts of Tariffs on Farmers
Representatives from several agriculture groups testified this week on the Section 301 tariffs proposed by the Trump administration on such goods as steel and aluminum imported into the country. Industry leaders fear as a response from other countries, that the US will face tariffs on our commodities which could drastically harm the already hurt domestic producer. On Tuesday, May 15, 2018, NAWG Board of Director Michelle Erickson-Jones, representing Farmers  for Free Trade, testified that farmers are already hurt by the threatened tariffs by decreased market prices. In her remarks, she stated “While the Section 301 tariffs are not yet in effect, the U.S. farm community is already feeling the effects of threatened tariff action including depressed commodity prices, shipments held up at port, increased inspections and cancelled orders.” Read the release here.

Additionally, on Thursday May 17th, NAWG Board of Director Michelle Erickson-Jones also spoke at a Farmers for Free Trade/NASDA joint press conference on trade. The conference was held in direct response to the Speaker of House’s deadline later that day for considering the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Joining Erickson-Jones was U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO); U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT); Derek Sandison, Director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture; Chris Chinn, Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture; Kristin Duncanson, Minnesota soy and hog farmer, Farmers for Free Trade; John Martini, Anthony Road Wine, New York; Jason Giannelli, Organic Specialty Grower, Ten Star Farming, California; and California Farm Bureau farmers.

Starling Heads to USDA from White House
USDA has confirmed that Ray Starling, the current special assistant to President Donald Trump for agriculture and agriculture trade on the National Economic Council, will serve as chief of staff for Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Before joining the Trump administration, Ray Starling worked as lawyer as well as chief of staff, general counsel, and senior policy advisor for Sen. Tom Tillis. Regarding the former chief of staff Perdue said, “Heidi Green’s roots have called her home and she will be rejoining her family in Georgia.”

USDA PRESS RELEASE: Secretary Perdue Applauds Red Tape Reduction for Farmers
On May 17, 2018, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue applauded the removal of a burdensome regulation that has long plagued family farms. The rule requiring producers to obtain Data Universal Number System (DUNS) and System for Award Management (SAM) numbers to participate in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs has been eliminated. Congress included this repeal in the FY 2018 Omnibus spending package, USDA’s official regulatory change will be published in the Federal Register on May 18th. Read the release here.

NAWG applauds the Administration for taking this step.

USDA Secretary Perdue Continues “Back to Roots” Tour
This week Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, continued his “back to roots” tour in New Mexico by visiting the Santa Fe National Forest headquarters on Monday. From there, he traveled to Colorado on Tuesday, then Wyoming on Wednesday, and lastly Nebraska on Thursday. On his tour, Sonny will be greeting employees and participating in discussions about the state’s agriculture.

2018 Bayer Bee Care Young Beekeeper Award – Deadline Extended to May 31, 2018
The 2018 Bayer Bee Care Young Beekeeper Award provides entrants between the ages of 12 and 18 the opportunity to win a $3,000 (1st place), $2,000 (2nd place) or $1,000 (3rd place) prize to support honey bee-focused initiatives in their schools or communities or to be applied toward college tuition. Any student under 18 who has approval from a legal guardian as well as a sponsoring mentor, such as an apiarist/beekeeper, grower, community leader, teacher, school official, etc., may apply. For more information and to apply, visit: https://beehealth.bayer.us/what-is-bayer-doing/bayer-bee-care-center/young-beekeeper-award.

ASTA and NAPB Launch 2nd Annual “Better Seed, Better Life” Student Video Contest
Graduate and undergraduate students pursuing agriculture disciplines are invited to participate in the second annual Better Seed, Better Life student video contest sponsored by the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and the National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB). The 2018 contest theme is: “Rumor Has It.” Videos should help set the record straight on a common misconception or myth associated with the seed industry and plant sciences. This could include any aspect of the seed industry (from plant breeding, to seed treatments, gluten, organics, GMOs, big corporate, the role of seed in everyday life, etc.). Videos should incorporate “man on the street” style interviews along with your own original content. Video submissions are due August 31, 2018. Videos will be judged by an expert panel, and cash prizes will be awarded for winners. For more information, including video specifications and submission requirements, visit the contest webpage.