NAWG Weekly Update: 4/28/16

Register NOW For the National Wheat Yield Contest, Deadline for Winter Wheat May 1
Sunday, May 1 is the final deadline for the winter wheat sector of the National Wheat Yield Contest, hosted by the National Wheat Foundation. The contest, which will drive growth and innovation in the wheat industry as well as encourage knowledge and tech transfer, is open to NAWG members or members of a recognized state wheat grower organization. The spring wheat sector registration deadline is July 1, but in order to qualify for the winter wheat sector, you must register by May 1. Register online on the National Wheat Foundation website here.

Deadline for CEO Application is May 2
NAWG’s national search for a new chief executive officer to replace Jim Palmer, who is stepping down at the end of May, will end this Monday, May 2. Following review of the applications, the Search Committee will select candidates to participate in two rounds of interviews. NAWG is searching for a candidate who has demonstrated farm policy experience and leadership in agriculture. Interested candidates should review the job posting here and apply by mail or email according to the directions in the job posting.

Vilsack Applauds Paris Climate Agreement as Progress
One hundred and seventy-five world leaders, including the U.S., signed the Paris Climate Agreement, a historic document which aims to slow the rise of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, which have been linked to the dangerous warming of the Earth. Initially approved in December in Paris by world leaders, the treaty has now officially been signed by the U.S., establishing a long-term and durable framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and move industrial countries into a future of sustainability. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hailed the signing of the agreement as a demonstration of the U.S.’s commitment to take real action on climate change, saying “America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have a track record of coupling extraordinary productivity gains with natural resource stewardship, which positions them well to contribute to the climate solutions called for in the Paris Agreement.” In December, as the treaty was being negotiated in Paris, NAWG Environmental Policy Adviser Keira Franz participated in a side event coordinated by Field to Market: the Alliance for Agriculture Sustainability to discuss the sustainability of wheat production and the conservation efforts that wheat farmers are taking to maintain economic viability while protecting the environment. Secretary Vilsack stated that climate-smart strategies put in place by the Paris Agreement will boost productivity and improve global food security.

NAWG, USW Continue to Press for Canada Grain Grading Changes Following Release of USDA Report
National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) President Gordon Stoner and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Chairman Brian O’Toole sent a letter this week to Canada’s Minister of Agriculture, Lawrence MacAulay, and Minister and International Trade, Chrystia Freeland, continuing to press the Canadian government to reform its grain grading system, which unfairly minimizes the quality of U.S.-grown wheat. As both Stoner and O’Toole farm in states bordering Canada, they have personal experience with this situation.

Under the Canada Grains Act, when a U.S. farmer transports his wheat across the border to Canada with the intent of selling at a local elevator, that wheat will automatically be deemed feed-quality without any regard for the actual quality of the grain. To take a closer look at the impact of this policy, Congress last fall included a provision from Senator Heidi Heitkamp (ND) in legislation to reauthorize the Grain Standards Act requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct a study about the policy barriers facing U.S. farmers in countries that don’t provide reciprocal grading. The study, which was released this spring, breaks down the grading system employed there and describes how such a system leads to a de facto requirement for segregation of grain in the Canadian bulk handling system. Additionally, the report raises concerns about whether Canada is meeting its trade commitments through the use of this system.

Through the letter, NAWG and USW compare the use of this grading system to the arguments that were used by Canada in the recent Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) dispute. Specifically, the Canadian grain grading system affords less favorable treatment for imported wheat as compared to domestically-grown wheat, which aligns closely with Canada’s argument that the U.S. COOL program led to a lower price being paid for Canadian livestock; at the end of the COOL dispute, the World Trade Organization ultimately ruled in Canada’s favor.

NAWG President Speaks to Ag Media at NAFB Event
NAWG President Gordon Stoner was in Washington, D.C. this week to attend the annual National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) Washington Watch. The event’s Issues Forum provided an opportunity for most of the major commodity and general farm organizations to be interviewed by the farm broadcasters in attendance. The National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) represented the U.S. Wheat Industry with Stoner, USW Vice Chairman and Maryland grower Jason Scott, and several policy staff. Stoner interviewed with Jim Wenger of KFRM Radio of Kansas, Spencer Chase of Agri-Pulse, and several others, about topics as diverse as defending the crop insurance program for wheat growers, Farm Bill implementation, and the National Wheat Yield Contest. Also discussed was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), of which NAWG and USW are both key advocates and on which NAWG continues to press Congress to move quickly. NAWG’s participation with U.S. Wheat Associates in the NAFB event is further demonstration of NAWG’s dedication to driving wheat growers’ stories to the forefront of the agriculture media.

NAWG Writes In Support of ArcadiaBio NIFA IWYP Grant Request
National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) President Gordon Stoner wrote a letter of support for Arcadia Biosciences in their application for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) Program grant. The grant will provide funding for efforts to support the Wheat Initiative, which is committed to coordinating wheat research in the areas of genetics, genomics, physiology, breeding and agronomy internationally. NAWG supports Arcadia’s success in their pilot genome editing experiments to develop an editing tool with wider utility to a greater proportion of the wheat breeding community. It is vitally important that wheat varieties are developed to improve yield without increasing inputs for farmers. NAWG supports efforts to expand wheat research, viewing increased knowledge of wheat varieties and disease prevention as key to moving the wheat industry forward.

House Agriculture Subcommittee Holds Next Hearing in Focus on the Farm Economy Series
The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research continued the Focus on the Farm Economy series with a House hearing on the positive and negative factors impacting the cost of production for farmers and ranchers. The third in the series, the hearing examined the state of the farm economy and heard testimonies from witnesses who provided insight into the policies which affect farm efficiency, productivity, and profitability. The Subcommittee heard from witnesses from several agricultural organizations, including the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, CropLife America, and more. Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Davis commented on the oversight of government agencies which implement burdensome policies and regulations, threatening the productivity of the farm economy and creating challenges for producers with no scientific or factual benefit to food safety or production. The witnesses covered topics such as the Market Access Program, the importance of biotechnology, and crop protection, addressing regulatory issues which adversely impact agricultural production for farmers and ranchers.