NAWG Weekly Update: August 7, 2014

Grain Inspection Still Stalled at Port of Vancouver
Despite ongoing attempts from NAWG, U.S. Wheat Associates and many other concerned groups, officials at the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have yet to take any action to deal with the stoppage of grain exports from the Port of Vancouver, Wash. On July 1, 2014, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) decided it would no longer fulfill its obligation to provide official grain inspection and weighing services at the Pacific Northwest port. Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration officials have cited alleged safety concerns for their workers at the port, which is being picketed by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union as part of an ongoing labor dispute. NAWG and other industry groups affected by the stoppage have shared with USDA that the damage this issue has already caused in lost confidence with foreign buyers, will only be intensified when the summer wheat harvest in the region reaches its zenith in the oncoming days. “The ongoing lack of response by USDA, in addition to their refusal to act upon their congressionally mandated responsibility and obligation to provide official inspection services is both unprecedented and unacceptable,” said NAWG President Paul Penner, a wheat farmer from Hillsboro, Kan, “If this problem is not solved immediately, countless farmers that export grain through the Port of Vancouver could be dumping their wheat on the ground.” NAWG and USW believe that under the U.S. Grain Standards Act, Congress vested in the Secretary of Agriculture 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 to Send Acreage History and Yield Reports to Farmers
On Friday, USDA sent out a press release announcing the Farm Service Agency (FSA) has started sending out notices to farmers updating them on their current base acres, yields and 2009-2012 planting history. The key to sending these reports is to make sure farmers and ranchers have this information, as they get closer to making a decision on what farm programs they will participate in. FSA encourages farmers to cross check the information with their own records and contact their local FSA county office as soon as possible if they find the information to be incomplete or incorrect. NAWG also encourages farmers to review this information thoroughly as it will help in making further decisions within the farm programs.  To read the full release you can visit USDA’s website.

NAWG Officer Featured in Agri-Pulse’s 50 Under 50 Article
As part of their six-week series, “Packing Political Punch in Rural America,” this week Agri-Pulse featured 50 farmers and ranchers under the age of 50 who are getting involved in leadership organizations and associations throughout the agricultural industry. One of the individuals showcased is NAWG’s current Secretary-Treasurer David Schemm, a wheat grower from Sharon Springs, Kan. The article mentions, “Upon graduating from college, David saw the need to return to his rural roots, and continuing the family’s farming operation. He believes people should step outside their comfort zone and expand their social networks in order to create lasting impacts in agriculture.” According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, the average farmer is 58.3 years old, and it is encouraging to know there are numerous young farmers and ranchers stepping up to leadership roles and making a difference for future generations. Read the whole Agri-Pulse article to learn how young people are making a difference in their communities, the agricultural industry, and the nation.

USDA Releases Greenhouse Gas Report
The USDA has released a report regarding the methods for quantifying greenhouse gas sequestration from agriculture and forestry activities. USDA’s work in this area is based on direction provided to the Department in the 2008 farm bill.  The report, Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in Agriculture and Forestry: Methods for Entity Scale Inventory provides the science behind changes in greenhouse gas emissions and carbon storage on farms, ranches and forest operations. USDA’s web-based farm level carbon assessment tool COMET-Farm, will be updated to include the new information from this report. COMET-Farm allows producers to evaluate soil carbon benefits from various conservation and tillage practices, and can be viewed here. The full greenhouse gas report can be downloaded and viewed here.

Senator Roberts Wins Primary
On Tuesday, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) defeated his tea party challenger, Milton Wolf, in the Kansas primary election. Roberts received 48 percent of the vote to Wolf’s 41 percent while two other opponents received a combined 11 percent of the vote. The seasoned Senator from Kansas reiterated in his victory speech that the Republican Party needs to be united stating he will work to “unite Republicans in Kansas behind a common cause.” Mr. Roberts will move on to the general election this fall facing Democrat Chad Taylor, a local district attorney, and independent candidate, Greg Orman.