NAWG Weekly Updates, July 06, 2017

Ag Sector Sends Letter to Senate Urging a Speedy Confirmation of Doud; Next Steps with Trade
On June 30, 2017, the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade, which represents the diverse food and agricultural sector, sent a letter to the U.S. Senate urging them to promptly confirm Gregg Doud as Chief Agricultural Negotiator, with the rank of Ambassador, in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) is currently part of the U.S. Food and Agriculture for Trade.

In other trade news, on June 29, 2017, the USTR announced a request for public input for a performance review of all the United States’ existing international trade and investment agreements. In an April 29, 2017 executive order, President Trump directed USTR and the Department of Commerce to submit within 180 days a report that reviews trade agreement performance, identifies trade abuses, and pursues trade remedies. Additionally, on June 29th, President Donald Trump announced a possible renegotiation of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. This announcement took places just a few days after several groups, including NAWG and USW, testified to the USTR on modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.

Lastly, a group of U.S. Senators recently sent a letter to the USTR highlighting the importance of agriculture in the NAFTA renegotiation. The letter can be found here.

Future Hearings in the House and Senate Ag Committees 
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry announced that it will hold a hearing next week on Thursday, July 13 at 10:00am.  The hearing will be focused on “Opportunities in Global and Local Markets, Specialty Crops, and Organics: Perspectives for the 2018 Farm Bill. No witnesses have been listed at this time.

Also on July 13th at 10:00am, the House Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, will hold a hearing titled “The Future of Farming: Technological Innovations, Opportunities, and Challenges for Producers.” More information can be found here.

Extreme Heat Broils the Dakotas and Montana; Flash Drought Takes Toll on Wheat Crop
A massive and intense heat dome has spread over the northern Plains and mountain West, sucking moisture out of the soil, and may persist for weeks. The scorching heat and absence of rain have spurred a rapidly intensifying drought that is decimating the region’s wheat crop.

Temperatures in Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas surged into the 90s and 100s on Wednesday, about 15 to 20 degrees above normal. Forecast models predict the same general weather pattern that supported this heat to persist up to two more weeks. Read coverage of the drought in The Washington Post.

Call to Action: Growers in these states and throughout the country should reach out to their Members of Congress and stress the importance of crop insurance. Crop Insurance is an essential safety net for farmers to help them recover from such unpredictable weather disasters as drought.

Proposed Farm Subsidy Cap Map
Kansas State has put together a map showing the number of insured acres on average that are needed to reach $40,000 proposed cap on subsides per farm. The maps allows you to see the impact for specific counties across the country.

Securing Our Agriculture and Food Act Signed into Law
On Friday, June 30, 2017, a bill to address the threat of agro-terrorism was signed into law.  The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.  This new law will require the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), through the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs, to lead a program to ensure the safety of the nation’s food, agriculture, and veterinary systems against terrorism and high-risk events.  Senator Roberts stated, “As the backbone of the U.S. economy, the spread of any deadly pathogen among our livestock and plant population would cause irreparable damage…. I am pleased we have taken this important step to better ensure the safety and security of our nation’s food supply.”  Find the text of the bill here.

NAWG Submits Comments to Registration Review Draft Risk Assessments of Pyrethroid Insecticides
On June 15, 2017, NAWG submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s solicitation of public comment on the registration review draft risk assessments for a number of pesticide chemicals, including several pyrethroid insecticides listed in Table 1 of Unit II. and the herbicide linuron listed in Table 2 of Unit II. In its comments, NAWG argued “beyond, the critical role pyrethroids play in pest management, they don’t cause adverse ecological effects when used under real-world conditions according to federally approved labels. The nature of pyrethroid chemistry makes these insecticides less of a hazard as compared to other pesticides.” Further, NAWG expressed concern that “the EPA screening-level preliminary ecological risk assessment for pyrethroid insecticides is overly conservative and does not consider the best available science. NAWG encourages the EPA to review the multiple high-quality studies and peer reviewed scientific publications provided by the Pyrethroid Working Group.” Read NAWG’s comments here.

Agri-Pulse: Meet the Farm Hands: Chandler Goule, National Association of Wheat Growers
On one of his first days in Washington, Chandler Goule hung up on the President of the United States. Twice. Now, he’s in charge of an organization tasked with advocating for America’s wheat producers. Hear his thoughts on his journey through Washington in this video.