NAWG Weekly Update: July 31, 2014

USDA Urged to Immediately Restore Grain Inspection Service at Port of Vancouver
NAWG along with 21 other associations signed a letter this week to Secretary of Agriculture and other key administration officials stating concerns of a notice by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) that it no longer would fulfill its obligation to provide official grain inspection and weighing services at the Port of Vancouver.

“To our knowledge, this latest announcement by a designated state agency declining to provide official services is unprecedented,” the groups wrote in their letter. “We believe WSDA’s actions create an extremely troubling precedent that will cause irreparable damage to the integrity and reliability of the nation’s official grain inspection system.” The organizations also cited the “uncertainty” already created within the export industry, as well as among agricultural producers and international buyers of U.S. commodities, regarding potential future disruptions of official services at facilities operating at other U.S. export ports. “In the absence of WSDA’s reliable performance of its duties, Federal Grain Inspection Service must intervene and make the necessary arrangements to provide the mandatory official (inspection) services.”

“This issue is of great concern to the wheat farmers in Pacific Northwest as well as around the country,” said Paul Penner, NAWG President and wheat farmer from Hillsboro, Kans. “If Washington state inspectors are unable to perform their duties, then the time has come for federal grain inspectors to step in and do their mandated jobs to get grain flowing out of the port of Vancouver. With the wheat harvest season already underway in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Plains regions, which export upwards of 80 percent of the wheat that they produce, we simply cannot afford to have this port shut down due to government inaction.”

House passes Regulatory Reform Bill
Today the House of Representatives passed H.R. 935, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act by a vote of 267 to 161. Earlier in the week the House voted on the bill under suspension of the rules, but the bill failed to reach the two-thirds majority necessary for passage. Today’s vote required a simple majority to pass. NAWG has supported passage of H.R. 935 and its preceding legislation H.R. 872 for several years and is pleased its passage. H.R. 935 eliminates the need for a duplicate permit for pesticide applications. As a result of a legal decision in 2009, EPA began requiring National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for pesticides near waters of the U.S. in 2011. The NPDES permit is needed in addition to the pesticide application regulation under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act that has been in place for over 30 years. The passage of this bill is a positive step toward reducing unnecessary regulations, but now moves to the Senate, where H.R. 872 stalled during the 112th Congress. NAWG urges the Senate to take up H.R. 935 prior to adjuring this fall.

USDA Releases More Farm Bill Information
On Tuesday, USDA released more information on implementation of crop insurance provisions in the farm bill. The Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) will be available through the federal crop insurance program and will be available for sign up for the 2015 crop year. This new program was part of the 2014 farm bill and was created to help protect producers from yield and market volatility.  This provision is one of many that will expand and strengthen the crop insurance program for growers. SCO will be available for corn, cotton, grain sorghum, rice, soybeans, spring barely, spring wheat and winter wheat in selected counties in 2015. RMA does plan to make SCO more widely available by adding more counties and crops for the 2016 crop year. SCO will provide county level coverage in addition to an underlying crop insurance policy and was designed to cover a portion of losses not covered by the underlying policy. If a producer elects to participate in Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC), they are not eligible to take SCO for the crop and farm participating in ARC.  For more information on SCO for 2015 winter and spring wheat, you can visit the Risk Management Agency’s (RMA) website. According to RMA, SCO information for other commodities will be released later this summer.

Bipartisan Support for TPP Urges President to be Harsher on Market Access
On Wednesday 140 members of the U.S, House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama expressing their concerns over the current negotiations regarding the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP), and its affect on agricultural markets. The letter urged President Obama to pursue a high standard, 21st Century agreement. If the U.S. would agree to the terms offered by Japan, they would considerably undermine Congressional support, as well as limit the ability for farmers and ranchers to access foreign markets.  The letter states, “we urge you to hold Japan to the same high standards as other TPP nations.” NAWG supports a comprehensive agreement that provides improved market access.

NAWG Thanks Leaders for Their Support of Biotechnology
Last week NAWG added their name to a group of agricultural businesses and organizations thanking former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and both the Chairman and Ranking member of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture, Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (R-Ore.), for their support of agricultural innovation. With the global population continuing to increase by 200,000 people every day, and a projected population of over 9 billion people by 2050, the need for biotechnology to improve agriculture production is vital in order to provide the world with the necessary food, fiber and fuel. The letters can be viewed here and here.

NWF Accepting Applications for 2014 WILOT Program
The Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow (WILOT) Program, sponsored by Monsanto, and hosted by the National Wheat Foundation (NWF) is a week long program designed for members of the wheat industry who would like to become more involved in the association’s leadership. Taking place in St. Louis, Mo. Nov. 15- 20, participants will have the opportunity to learn more about the wheat industry’s structure, function and priorities, and receive lobbying and media training. With Monsanto as a sponsor, opportunities to visit their labs and visit with scientists focusing on wheat projects will be available.

Applications are being accepted until Sept. 19 and can be submitted via email to Jinger Eberspacher,

NAWG Attends Ag Media Summit
NAWG staff attended the 16th annual Ag Media Summit in Indianapolis, Ind. this week to collaborate with agricultural communicators across North America. The Ag Media Summit is a joint meeting of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association, the Livestock Publications Council and the American Business Media Agri-Council. Click here for more information on the Ag Media Summit.

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