NAWG Weekly Updates, October 20, 2017

Domestic and Trade Policy Committee
NAWG’s Domestic and Trade Policy Committee discussed a number of topics in preparation for development of the 2018 Farm Bill. The Committee discussed the economic conditions in wheat country and how this is driving discussions around the Fam Bill. NAWG staff also provided the Committee with an overview of the bill’s status on the Hill and NAWG’s priorities around the legislation. The group focused its conversation and debate on Crop Insurance, Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, base acres, and MAP/FMD.

NAWG’s Molly O’Connor provided the group with an update on NAFTA, KORUS, and the WTO case against China.

Lastly, Robert Blair, former NAWG Director, provided a presentation on behalf of the AGree Initiative. The AGree Initiative is housed at the Meridian Institute, a facilitation and mediation organization specializing in Food and Agriculture issues. Robert provided a brief overview for the Committee on AGree’s activities and issues they are exploring.

Environment and Renewable Resources Committee
Environment and Renewable Resources Committee met on Wednesday this week to discuss conservation and the next Farm Bill, regulatory reform, and other policy issues. Committee members also heard from guest speakers Kim Magin, Monsanto, Jim McCarthy, North American Millers Association, and Rob MacKie, American Bakers Association. The committee also discussed the current status of the USDA Reorganization process. Lastly, National Wheat Foundation Chair Phil McClain provided an update to the Committee on the Foundation’s recent activities.

Research and Technology Committee 
The Research and Technology Committee met this week at NAWG’s Fall Wheat Conference and Board meeting. On Wednesday, the Committee listened to a presentation by Jose Costa, National Program Leader Grain Crops at the USDA, on budgetary issues affecting wheat research.

NAWG’s Josh Tonsager provided the group with an update on the Farm Bill Research Title. The group also discussed the language around “quality” for the Farm Bill Research Title.

Lastly, the Committee had a briefing on the Glyphosate residue issue and California’s Proposition 65.

Joint International Trade Policy Committee
NAWG along with the US Wheat Associates (USW) held a Joint Committee meeting on Wednesday October 18th at the 2017 Fall Wheat Conference. Ben Conner from USW provided the group with an update on the Administration’s work to renegotiate NAFTA and its consideration to withdraw or renegotiate KORUS. The group also discussed ways to push the Administration towards new creating new Free Trade Agreements. Julia Doherty, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative, talked over the current trade concerns around MRLs. NAWG’s Molly O’Connor provided the group with an update on the Administration’s work to expand its trade program with Cuba. She also discussed NAWG’s current engagement with Congress and the Administration on several trade issues including NAFTA, KORUS, MAP, and FMD.

Wheat Breeding Innovation Committee
The Joint Biotech Committee was called to order Wednesday afternoon where they heard a few company updates from Syngenta. NAWG’s Molly O’Connor discussed with the Committee how USDA plans on issuing its proposed federal GMO labeling rule in the fall of 2017 (which will be subject to public comment). O’Connor also provided an update to APHIS 340.

Wheat Growers Organizations Dispute Corker’s Food Aid Position
NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates issued a release today in response to remarks made at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) stating that he has talked to farmers and that farmers “do not care” about U.S. in-kind food aid. Read the joint release here.

Senate Agriculture Committee Sends USDA Nominees Ibach, Northey to Full Senate
U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., today announced the Committee voted to favorably report nominees Gregory Ibach, of Nebraska, to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs; and William Northey, of Iowa, to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Both Ibach and Northey may now be considered by the full U.S. Senate for confirmation.

Celebrating the World Food Prize this Week
The 2017 World Food Prize events kicked off on this week in Des Moines, Iowa. The Borlaug Dialogues took place on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 and began with opening remarks from Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation. Also on Wednesday, Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, received the 2017 World Food Prize award and delivered his keynote address. For more, visit the World Food Prize site here and follow @worldfoodprize on Twitter using #FoodPrize2017.

USDA’s NASS Gets Experts’ Advice for Improved Surveys
AgriPulse recently reported that USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) needs an array of updated and alternative tools and new statistical models to achieve 21st century bean counting on American farms and ranches, says the National Academy of Sciences in a report. The report, “Improving Crop Estimates by Integrating Multiple Data Sources,” sets up hurdles for NASS to clear to improve its surveys and analysis by 2025. It portends a whole lot of work and costs at NASS and other USDA agencies to implement its findings, as well as inevitable adjustments in county crop statistics used to set insured yields for crop insurance, for example, and other USDA crop and livestock assistance levels…it also recommends that NASS adopt “high-quality, model-based estimates that synthesize multiple data sources,” bringing the quality of its survey findings to up to standards the U.S. Office of Management and Budget wants to see in federal agency reports.