NAWG Weekly Update: June 11, 2015

Urge Your Members to Support TPA

The House of Representatives is considering legislation this week to reauthorize Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), a key tool to completing multilateral trade negotiations. The legislation is expected to receive a vote by the full Chamber on Friday, June 12. The vote is expected to be close, and NAWG President Brett Blankenship has been in Washington, D.C. this week to meet with Congressional offices that will be key in deciding the vote.

NAWG members are strongly encouraged to contact your Members of Congress urging them to support TPA.

  • Trade Promotion Authority is necessary for concluding trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)
  • Around half of America’s wheat crop is exported – access to our international markets is absolutely critical for the agricultural economy
  • A vote for TPA isn’t itself a vote for TPP – TPP negotiations aren’t finalized, and if the President is granted Trade Promotion Authority, any final trade deal would still have to receive an up or down vote by Congress before it could be enacted
  • If the U.S. doesn’t participate in trade negotiations, our trading partners will set the rules and we’ll be left behind
  • Support for TPA is support for American agriculture and industry

House Passes Grain Standards Act Reauthorization
On Tuesday, June 9, the U.S. House of Representatives approved by voice vote H.R. 2088, the United States Grain Standards Reauthorization Act. The House version of the reauthorization would require that in instances where state-delegated agencies intend to disrupt services, that agency must provide notice to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 72 hours in advance of the disruption. If that advance notice is given, USDA would be required to resume services within 6 hours; if no advance notice is given, USDA would then have 12 hours to resume inspections. If USDA is unable to do so, the export elevator would be able to request inspection services from any other delegated or designated state agency. Additionally, the bill would require USDA to review the delegation of that state agency’s authority and make a determination as to whether or not the agency should retail that authority moving forward.

The Senate Agriculture Committee has also marked up its own reauthorization bill. The Senate version of the bill would also require 72 hours notice by a state delegated agency that intends to temporarily stop providing inspection services, but it would require USDA to immediately take actions that are necessary to address the disruption, rather than allowing for another delegated or designated state agency step in. The bill would also require USDA to establish a transparent certification process for state-delegated agencies within a year of enactment, as well as require certification every five years.

Time for floor consideration in the Senate has not yet been scheduled. Following House action on its bill, NAWG sent a letter with other ag groups to the leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee urging the Senate to act. The letter also discussed the importance of timely Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) intervention when a state-delegated agency is unable to inspect, the importance of maintaining state-delegated authority and establishing a certification process, and the need for a mechanism for USDA to provide security services for FGIS personnel during situations like what occurred at the Port of Vancouver last summer. The legislation approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee addresses the concerns of the signing organizations.

NAWG continues to be active in ensuring that the flow of grain through our export ports can continue uninterrupted during operational disruptions.

NAWG Applauds Senate Committee Approval of Water Bill
This week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Improvement Act. NAWG supports the bill, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the waters of the U.S. regulation that was released on May 27.

The Waters of the U.S. Regulation does not provide clarity to growers about the waters that will be under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. NAWG has continued to express these concerns as well as concerns about the inclusion of the prairie pothole region and other waters as “regional treasures” and the expanded jurisdiction over these waters.

House Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry Discusses Conservation Programs
Today the U.S. House Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry held a hearing that discussed the implementation of the conservation programs included in the 2014 Farm Bill. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller testified in addition to Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini. Administrator Val Dolcini discussed the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Citing that the 2014 Farm Bill mandates that non-easement functions of the repealed Grassland Reserve Program be carried out under CRP, with enrollment of up to 2 million acres authorized. These enrollments count against the statutory CRP acreage cap. In addition, the farm bill mandates changes to routine, prescribed, and emergency grazing, managed harvesting frequency, tree thinning payments and other provisions. Administrator Val Dolcini reassured the Committee that rulemaking to implement those changes is well underway, as is the process to complete the National Environmental Policy Act requirements.

The second panel included conservation stakeholders from the National Association of Conservation Districts, USA Rice Federation, Lancaster Farmland Trust and Pheasants Forever. Chairman Thompson (R-PA) was also concerned with communication flow between the agencies and producers especially in regards to the USDA’s June 1 self-certification deadline.

NWF Chairman Encourages Wheat Growers to Participate in Yield Contest
In a post on The Word on Wheat blog, National Wheat Foundation (NWF) Chairman, Dusty Tallman, urges wheat growers to participate in the National Wheat Yield Contest that will begin later this year (NWYC).
“The NWYC, a new program of NWF, is an opportunity for all U.S. wheat growers to help enhance the quality and quantity of the U.S. wheat crop. I encourage my fellow wheat growers to take advantage of this national competition to showcase your individual abilities to produce the best quality wheat in the world. The NWYC will help increase U.S. wheat grower productivity to ensure an ample supply of quality U.S. wheat to reliably meet the needs of the domestic wheat market and our valued foreign customers. Through the generous support of NWYC founding and crop protection partner BASF, and equipment partner John Deere, seed partner Monsanto and agronomic services partner WinField, NWF is able to launch this new knowledge-sharing competition to America’s wheat growers this fall.”
“We are very appreciative of our industry partners helping our NWF grower-leaders fund, design and create this program for our growers across the U.S. Through their support, we hope to drive innovation in the industry, enable knowledge transfer between growers, encourage the use of available technology and identify top wheat growers in each state who will compete for the top five national winter wheat and spring wheat winners.” Click here to read the complete article.