NAWG Weekly Update February 12, 2015

Determined to Prevent Export Slowdowns at U.S. Ports, NAWG Signs Coalition Letter
Over the last year, the American agriculture industry has been plagued by multiple slowdowns at our nation’s ports, from which the food supply chain delivers high quality nutritious food to every corner of the globe. Currently, our industry is facing another blow to our supply chain caused by a slowdown in terminal activity at five West Coast ports throughout California due to a labor dispute. The National Association of Wheat Growers, along with over ninety other concerned commodity groups, signed a letter urging the two factions to work together to resolve the conflict and calling on the federal government to consider all options for bringing the dispute to an end. The letter warns of the potential loss our producers and consumers could face should the dispute continue: “Inevitably, these overseas customers will look to other sources for their supply of these goods. Additionally, the dispute is affecting imports from counter-seasonal production areas important for serving U.S. consumers.”

The coalition letter can be viewed here.

NAWG Submits Comments on EQIP Regulation
This week, NAWG submitted comments on the Interim Final Rule for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The 2014 Farm Bill consolidated the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program into EQIP in an effort to eliminate duplicative programs. NAWG encouraged NRCS to work cooperatively with wheat growers when implementing the program and to ensure that growers are not required to undertake a comprehensive conservation plan in order to participate in EQIP. A copy of NAWG’s comments can be found here.

NAWG Supports Tax Section 179
This week, NAWG signed onto two letters in support of making Section 179 small business expensing permanent at $500,000. A group of 34 agriculture-related groups sent Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi a letter encouraging the U.S. House of Representatives to approve vital legislation that would provide wheat growers and other producers with the necessary tools to make informed business decisions to continue their successful operations. The groups emphasized the importance of Section 179 to agriculture producers during positive cash flow years. The letter stated that not passing the legislation places “additional burdens on farm and ranch families who are asset-rich and cash poor and already face an unpredictable tax code that encourages the breakup of multigenerational farm and ranch operations.”

NAWG also signed onto a multi-industry letter in support of H.R. 636 to two of the bill’s sponsors Representatives Tiberi and Kind. The proposed legislation – America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2015 – would make permanent Section 179 at the $500,000 level. This letter enforces the bill’s importance to all small businesses, especially during positive cash flow years, and also notes “high tax compliance costs consistently rank as a top concern for small business owners, and act as a drag on investment, growth and innovation.” For NAWG and many others, passage of this bill will increase investment and jobs, reduce complexity and paperwork and alleviate uncertainty.

2015 Farm Income at Six-Year Low, Estimates USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered its forecast for the 2015 net farm income to $73.6 billion, a 32 percent drop from a 2014 forecast of $108 billion for this year’s income. The 2015 forecast would be the lowest since 2009 and a drop of nearly 43 percent from the record high of $129 billion in 2013. Lower crop and livestock prices are the main drivers of the drop. The rate of growth in farm assets is forecast to slow in 2015 compared to recent years. The slowdown in growth is a result of lower net income leading to less capital investment and a slight decline in farmland values. Read the full report here.

The Word on Wheat: Wheat “Hearts” American Heart Month
February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, and the National Wheat Foundation reminds us that we can keep your heart healthy by eating healthy, exercising and living a healthy lifestyle. The vital nutrients in whole and enriched grains make wheat an essential part of a hearty-healthy plan.

According to the American Heart Association, a number of studies support the connection between consumption of whole grain foods – such as whole wheat – and the reduced risk of coronary heart disease. In addition to their many nutrients, whole grains are a good source for dietary fiber. Fiber, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce cholesterol levels and may lower risk for heart disease.

NWF’s full blog post on the subject can be read here.

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