NAWG Weekly Update: April 30, 2015

House Ag Committee Approves Grain Standards Act Legislation
The House Agriculture Committee considered legislation today to reauthorize the Grain Standards Act (GSA). The proposed legislation—introduced by Chairman Conaway, Ranking Member Peterson, Subcommittee Chairman Crawford, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Walz—would reauthorize GSA for five years. It includes some transparency provisions as well as changes to the ways fees are structured. Additionally, the bill would require a review of any state delegated authorities that cease inspections and would require the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) to step in to provide inspections should state agencies cease their responsibility. If FGIS is not able to step in within a specified timeframe, the bill would allow other state delegated or designated agencies to provide inspections at such facility for up to 90 days.

The Committee approved the legislation unanimously. NAWG is gathering input from our members, and will continue to engage with the House and Senate Agriculture Committees on this important issue. The Senate Agriculture Committee with be holding a hearing next Tuesday afternoon on this topic where the panel will hear from various segments of the value chain. A section-by-section summary of the House legislation can be found here.

NAWG Applauds Introduction of the Federal Water Quality Protection Act
During a press conference today, a bipartisan group of senators announced the Federal Water Quality Protection Act that requires the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rewrite the proposed waters of the U.S. regulation.

“We applaud the efforts by this group of Senators and the introduction of this bill that seeks to protect the water quality of navigable waters and more clearly define what waters of the U.S. includes and does not include,” said NAWG President, Brett Blankenship. “On behalf of the nation’s wheat growers, we look forward to working with Congressional leadership to ensure a swift passage. We are very supportive of this legislation that addresses significant flaws in the proposed WOTUS rule.”

NAWG also joined a group of agricultural organizations voicing support for the Act by signing on to a letter sent to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. This legislation establishes sound principles to guide the agencies’ action on a “waters of the U.S.” rule so the final result reflects the statutory limits created by Congress.

NAWG Attends NAFB Washington Watch
Monday, NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates attended the National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) Washington Watch in Washington, D.C. NAWG President, Brett Blankenship, attended the event and discussed Trade Promotion Authority and the Grain Standards Act reauthorization with broadcasters from around the country. Washington Watch is held each spring and provides an opportunity for NAWG leaders and staff to interact with farm broadcasters and discuss NAWG issues

NAWG Officers Meet in DC for Spring Retreat
The NAWG officers traveled to Washington D.C. this week for their 2015 Officers’ Retreat. The leaders conducted annual planning and worked with NAWG staff to refine the organization’s policy goals for the year. They also participated in a series of meetings with members of Congress, Hill staffers and USDA officials to reiterate the need for increased trade and research. The leaders also met with former-Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole (R-KS), thanking Senator Dole for his decades of service to American agriculture and his continued support for wheat. NAWG’s leadership team left Washington feeling optimistic about the future of TPA, TPP, and the American wheat industry as a whole.