NAWG Weekly Update July 28, 2016

National Wheat Yield Contest Deadline is AUGUST 1
NAWG is still encouraging and accepting applications for the National Wheat Yield Contest! Producers can sign up online by the spring wheat sector deadline of AUGUST 1. This national contest is intended to raise public interest in the wheat industry as well as encourage producers to converse amongst themselves about technologies and more efficient methodologies that will benefit the community as a whole. The winner will be announced in the fall and given the opportunity to attend the Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas as the guest of NWF.

NAWG Endorses Newcomer Dr. Marshall for Kansas’ First District U.S. Representative
NAWG endorsed Dr. Roger Marshall for the U.S. House of Representatives from the First district of Kansas. As a native Kansan, Marshall values the hard work of farmers, the importance of protecting crop insurance and the farm economy, and projecting the voices of Kansas farmers into DC, where Kansas has not had representation on the House Agriculture Committee for four years.

“As a Kansas wheat farmer, and a constituent of Marshall’s district, it is important to me that there is someone who I can trust in Washington to advocate for my needs, and the needs of other farmers,” said David Schemm, NAWG Vice President. “We took this extraordinary step because in witnessing Dr. Marshall’s willingness to engage with Kansas wheat farmers and continue the legacy of the First district’s values and integrity by representing us in Washington, we are confident that Dr. Marshall stands with, and for, wheat farmers.”

NAWG’s endorsement of Dr. Roger Marshall is intended to speak to his dedication to giving Kansas wheat farmers a voice in Washington. NAWG is confident that Marshall will use his experience and Kansas upbringing to fight for wheat farmers in the upcoming Farm Bill.
Vice President Schemm also contributed an editorial to High Plains Journal.

NAWG Vice President Schemm Speaks with Media at Ag Media Summit 
This week, NAWG Vice President and Kansas wheat grower David Schemm attended the Agriculture Media Summit event in St. Louis, MO, where he spoke to representatives of the media about issues as diverse as all-time high wheat crop yields, Farm Bill implementation and planning, and recent developments in the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) of the USDA. With nearly 500 participants and several of the largest media publications represented, this year’s event allowed Schemm an opportunity to discuss what is most important to wheat farmers heading into the next Farm Bill.

In speaking with media spokespeople, Schemm emphasized the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and our current trading partners, especially given the size of this year’s wheat harvest. NAWG hopes that these high levels will incentivize sophisticated trade relationships benefiting American wheat farmers, and reiterate the importance of maintaining safety net programs in the next Farm Bill. In discussing how low prices are triggering Marketing Assistance Loans (MAL) and Loan Deficiency Payments (LDP) by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Schemm spoke to the importance of protecting farmers against the possibility of continued low prices by prioritizing the development of a workable, flexible, and feasible farm safety net in the next Farm Bill. Schemm emphasized that it is crucial that programs like crop insurance, ARC, PLC, and loan rates are maintained to combat low prices that are outside of the farmers’ control. Schemm also spoke with representatives from NRCS about the redesign of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to become better integrated with other NRCS programs, while accommodating local priorities, stating how important it is that wheat farmers utilize CSP to protect natural resources without detriment to crop yields and productivity.

RMA Works to Lower Improper Payment Rate, While Highlighting Effectiveness of Crop Insurance
The federal crop insurance program is proving to be financially effective and productive, but the Risk Management Agency (RMA) is still looking for ways to improve, including reducing its already very low improper payment rate. In a meeting with reporters, RMA Administrator Brandon Willis stated that although the improper payment rate for Fiscal Year 2015 was 2.2 percent, which is down significantly from the FY 2014 rate of 5.58 percent and almost half of the 4.39 percent rate for all government programs, the agency is expanding its use of “data mining” and spot-checks of crop insurance agents and adjustors to help identify improper payments.

Administrator Willis also discussed the recent growth in the program, as measured by coverage options. Specifically, the crop insurance program has doubled from 2009 to 2016, with an increase of 64,000 coverage options to 118,000 options covering 543 varieties of crops. Liability through the program also increased from $79.5 billion in 2009 to $102.4 billion today, according to RMA figures. Wheat, at $8.4 billion, comprises 8.2 percent of that total. Earlier in July, RMA also stated in a press release that other programs included in the 2014 Farm Bill, such as Supplemental Coverage Option and the APHS Yield Exclusion have been successful in helping farmers expand protection of their crops. The RMA’s expansion of these programs has led to a reliable farm safety net keeping producers strong and protected.

ARC and PLC Deadline is August 1, Enroll Now
NAWG wants to remind all state producers that this coming Monday, August 1, is the deadline to enroll in the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) for the 2016 crop year.  Though producers have previously elected the program in which they’ve chosen to participate, they still must enroll in that program annually.  Created in the 2014 Farm Bill, these programs are intended to benefit participating producers when they experience revenue losses or price declines. An estimated 1.76 million producers are expected to be signing ARC or PLC contracts for their protection this year. Commodity producers of wheat, sunflower seed, soybeans, sesame, safflower seed, medium and long grain rice, rapeseed, dry peas, peanuts, oats, mustard seed, lentils, grain sorghum, flaxseed, crambe, corn, large and small chickpeas, canola, and barley are all covered under ARC and PLC contracts. More information about programs and how to enroll can be found on the USDA website.