NAWG Weekly Update: August 14, 2014

Grain Inspection Resumes at Port of Vancouver
Grain inspections at the Port of Vancouver, Washington officially resumed on Tues., Aug. 12 after a tentative labor agreement was struck between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and several grain shipping companies in the region. Grain inspections had been stalled in the port since early July, when the Washington State Department of Agriculture decided it could no longer fulfill its obligation to provide official grain inspection and weighing services at the Pacific Northwest port, citing safety concerns after Washington Governor Jay Inslee ended state police escorts. USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration also cited safety concerns related to the labor issue as the reason it would not replace state grain inspection officials with Federal Grain Inspection Service inspectors. NAWG, U. S. Wheat Associates and other industry groups affected by the stoppage shared with the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that closing a major export location hurt farmers and their overseas customers and risked damage to U.S. wheat’s reputation as the world’s most reliable supply. “NAWG is pleased that grain is moving and a tentative agreement has been reached by both sides of the labor dispute, but we are still frustrated by the lack of involvement by USDA throughout the process, and most importantly, their refusal to act upon their congressionally mandated obligation to provide official inspection services during the stoppage of inspections,” said NAWG President Paul Penner, a wheat farmer from Hillsboro, Kan. NAWG and USW believe that under the U.S. Grain Standards Act, the Secretary of Agriculture should have fulfilled the obligation to provide official inspection services at export locations to facilitate efficient and cost-effective marketing of U.S. grains and oilseeds — even if an authorized state agency fails to do so. 

USDA Releases Information on STAX and SCO
On Tuesday, USDA released information on the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) for cotton producers announcing that STAX would be available through the federal crop insurance program starting with the 2015 crop year. STAX is a brand new risk management option created in the 2014 farm bill that will help protect cotton producers. Along with the STAX program USDA launched a website with a Crop Insurance Decision Tool that will help producers understand how the STAX and the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) will interact with traditional crop insurance. This tool is to be used for educational purposes and does not provide an exact quote but will give the producer a general idea on what each program will provide and ultimately help producers make a decision. USDA asks that producers continue to consult their crop insurance agent for more detailed information for a producers individual operation. USDA also notes on the decision tool that currently realistic data is provided only for winter wheat; all other crops provide default values only. To check out the decision tool you can visit USDA’s website here.

NAWG Participates in Discussion on Biotechnology
NAWG first vice president, Brett Blankenship, participated in a panel discussion on biotechnology on Wednesday during the D.C. Biotechnology Round Table hosted by Illinois Soybean Association and the American Soybean Association. Blankenship participated in a farmer panel that also included a corn and soybean farmer. The one-day event brought together farmer-leaders, regulators, trade negotiators and industry representatives to discuss biotechnology and its importance in meeting the growing world demand for food. Darci Vetter, U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator presented the keynote address. “Events like this are important to bring stakeholders together to discuss our growing need for more innovation, research and more a more stream-lined, science based approval process. If we are going to feed 9 billion people by 2050, we need to start getting more serious about gaining acceptance both at home and abroad,” commented Blankenship. Though there is currently no biotech wheat in commercialization, NAWG supports biotechnology and encourages the use of innovation to explore the emerging biotechnology industry. Click here for a full list of speakers and more information on the D.C. Biotechnology Round Table.

Farm Bill Webinar on Farm Bill Contingency Plan – ARC or PLC
DTN/The Progressive Farmer is hosting a free webinar on farm contingency plans next Thursday, Aug. 21 at 9:00 a.m. CDT. The webinar will help growers assess options and prepare for the one-time decisions for 2014-2018 crops. Find out what conditions favor Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Production Loss Coverage (PLC) and how they will influence your crop insurance purchases in the years ahead. Click here to register.

2014 WILOT Applications Due September 19
The National Wheat Foundation is accepting applications for the 2014 Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow (WILOT) program that is scheduled for November 15 – 20 in St. Louis, Mo. WILOT is an annual program designed for wheat farmers looking to become more involved in the wheat industry through association and commission leadership. The program is sponsored by Monsanto and gives grower-participants the opportunity to visit Monsanto labs and discuss wheat projects with their scientists. Interested candidates can submit applications to Jinger Eberspacher at by September 19.