NAWG Weekly Update January 29, 2015

Rep. Robert Gibbs Awarded Wheat Leader of the Year Award
Ohio Representative Robert “Bob” Gibbs was selected for the 2014 Wheat Leader of the Year Award by the NAWG at the annual Wheat Industry Winter Conference in Washington, D.C. NAWG president, Paul Penner, a farmer from Kansas, presented Rep. Gibbs the award Wednesday morning in Rep. Gibbs’ office. “Last year was a big year for wheat, and I feel honored to present the award to Representative Gibbs. We thank him for his leadership and look forward to his continued leadership in 2015,” said Penner. The Wheat Leader of the Year Award is given annually by NAWG to one member of Congress, regardless of party affiliation, whose philosophy and record demonstrate their commitment to the wellbeing of America’s wheat farmers. The Wheat Leader of the Year Award is the wheat industry’s highest legislative honor.

Senate Holds Hearing on Positive Train Control
The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing Thursday morning on rail issues, including Positive Train Control (PTC) as well as tank car rules. During the hearing, Chairman John Thune (R-ND) emphasized while some improvements have been seen, there is much work remaining to improve overall performance. Sen. Thune also mentioned that he plans to introduce a bill that includes reforms to the STB later this year. The discussion also focused on how the rail industry is investing in capacity, especially in the northern tier through North Dakota and Montana, towards ports in the Pacific Northwest, from where a majority of exported wheat ships. NAWG frequently works on rail policy through Congressional outreach as well as through the STB. NAWG leaders and staff currently participate in BNSF’s Ag Rail Business Council and are looking to engage in similar discussions with leaders of other railroads that ship throughout the nation.

NAWG Files Comments on Neonicotinoids
Last week NAWG submitted comments to EPA regarding the use of neonicotinoids by wheat farmers. EPA was accepting comments on a study, which concluded that there is no benefit to soybean production from the use of neonicotinoids. In their comments, NAWG supported the continued us of neonicotinoids by wheat producers, reminding that it is the only EPA approved and labeled product for wheat to treat certain pests. A study Assessing the Value of Neonicotinoids in North American Agriculture by AgInformatics found that if wheat growers did not have the use of neonicotinoids, the increased cost per planted acre would be $2.76 for winter wheat and $1.97 for spring wheat. EPA is currently reviewing the insecticide class of neonicotinoids, but the release of the specific study for comment in the Federal Register was an unusual step. A copy of the NAWG letter can be found here.

The Word On Wheat: NWF Blog Makes a Case for Biotech
Recently, an article in the St. Louis Dispatch examined whether or not the wheat industry is ready for biotechnology traits being researched by many public private partnerships, including a Monsanto research program noted in the article. The National Wheat Foundation responded to the story by making a case for biotech use in wheat. Innovation and collaboration in wheat research is necessary to meet production challenges in an economically viable, environmentally sound manner. As farmers continue to grow more on less land and with fewer resources, wheat production needs to be both efficient and profitable for it to continue to be planted by farmers around the world. The full blog post can be read here.

NAWG President Speaks at Garden City Farm and Ranch Show
NAWG president, Paul Penner, spoke to a group of growers Saturday in Garden City, Kan. at the Garden City Farm and Ranch Show. The Show is an annual event that features a variety of agriculture related vendors, farm equipment demonstrations, special interactive sessions with agriculture experts, and the ag outlook for 2015, in addition to other events.

Chairman Conaway Announces Subcommittee Assignments
This week, Agriculture Committee Chairman, K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), announced subcommittee assignments for the 114th Congress.

“I look forward to working with this very talented team of proven leaders,” Conaway said. “Their diverse backgrounds will be of great value to the Committee as we work to promote a strong production agriculture system and vibrant rural America.” A complete list of the Subcommittee assignments can be found here.