NAWG Weekly Update January 15, 2015

House Passes Regulatory Reform Bill
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 185, the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015. The legislation is first in what is expected to be a year of congressional activity addressing regulatory burdens. H.R. 185 requires that government agencies select the least costly option when developing a regulation. The bill sponsor former House Agriculture Committee Chairman and current Chair of the Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte stated, “The effects of excessive government regulation are real for the American people. The regulatory burden for each American household adds up to $15,000.” He went on to add, “The bill passed by the House of Representatives reforms the Executive Branch and the problem of overreaching federal regulation.” Congress is expected to address additional regulatory reform efforts during the 114th Congress.

EPA Selects New Agriculture Advisor
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Ron Carleton will be the next Agriculture Counselor to the EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Carleton returns to Washington, D.C. from Colorado where he has been the deputy agriculture commissioner for the state. Prior to working in Colorado, Carleton served as the Representative John Salazar’s chief of staff and also held several other positions on Capitol Hill over the last 30 years. Carleton replaces Alison Wiedeman who has been serving in the position in an acting capacity since the departure of Sarah Bittleman last year.

NAWG Staff Attends AFBF and TCAP Meetings
NAWG staff was in San Diego, Cali. this week to attend both the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) annual convention as well as the Triticeae Coordinated Agricultural Project (TCAP) annual meeting. Staff attended several workshop and speaker sessions during the AFBF convention, including workshops on upcoming Food and Drug Administration policy, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle’s (UAV), big data, and Precision Agriculture, in addition to Farm Bureau events such as the annual Farm Bureau Trade Show, Young Farmer and Rancher competitions and policy meetings.

At the TCAP meeting, NAWG and state staff listened to wheat and barley researchers present work from the last year as part of the grant and discuss how the TCAP program could be improved in future years. TCAP, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture $25 million grant to develop new varieties of wheat and barley, merges two large communities of U.S. breeders: barley and wheat breeders, previously funded by the BarleyCAP and the WheatCAP programs respectively. As a result, researchers, breeders and educators across 21 states, from USDA and 55 universities compose the T-CAP consortium.

Secretary Vilsack Talks Farm Bill Victories at AFBF Convention
At AFBT’s 96th Annual Convention, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack took time to list the accomplishments that USDA has made in implementing the farm bill. The Secretary stated that USDA is aggressively implementing the 2014 farm bill through more than 556 events, 428 demonstrations of web-based tools and over 60,000 direct mail pieces. Vilsack encouraged producers to make important decisions regarding the farm bill’s policies “as soon as they are ready” as to avoid “funneling of these decisions in late March.” If the majority of producers wait until the last minute, it could create “significant staff and potential technology issues,” according to Vilsack. For a complete list of the farm bill’s implementation benchmarks, please click here, courtesy of Agri-Pulse.

Winter Wheat Seedings Decline, Total Wheat Stored Increases, Price Per Bushel to Rise
U.S. farmers have planted about 40.5 million acres of winter wheat for harvest in 2015, down 5 percent from a year earlier, states USDA. About 29.5 million acres of red winter wheat were sown, down 3 percent the previous year, USDA said. Some 7.5 million acres of the soft red winter variety were planted, down 12 percent. White winter wheat seeded area totaled 3.48 million acres, up 2 percent, USDA said. Seeding began in August and by the end of September was well ahead of the five-year average; fieldwork was mostly complete by the middle of November.

In a separate report, titled World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, USDA said the average farm price for wheat will be $6.10 a bushel for the 2014-2015 marketing year, up from $6 projected in December while down from $6.87 in the previous season. See the report and more here, courtesy of Agri-Pulse.