NAWG Weekly Update: June 5, 2014

 Australia, Canada and U.S. Groups Reconfirm Commitment to Innovation and Biotechnology in Wheat
Sixteen organizations in Australia, Canada and the United States representing producers and millers publicly confirmed support for innovation in wheat, including the future commercialization of biotechnology today. The statement comes five years after an original document was signed. This new pledge welcomes the addition of broad-based groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union to a wide coalition of wheat organizations in three countries. The statement calls for further innovation in research as wheat represents 20 percent of human calorie intake, making it an essential part of the global diet and critical to food security. As demand increases, wheat supplies must remain abundant while meeting the highest quality and nutrition standards. Advancing breeding and biotechnology will help protect the continued availability of wheat foods. The statement encourages the governments of wheat producing and importing countries to maintain sound, science-based regulatory systems as well as to adopt reasonable low-level presence policies to minimize trade disruptions. Click here to view the full statement.

Senate Confirms Three Nominees to Fill CFTC vacancies
The Senate confirmed three nominees to fill the Chairman and Commissioner vacancies at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on Tuesday. Timothy G. Massad, a former Treasury official, will replace Gary Gensler as Chairman, while Sharon Y. Bowen and J. Christopher Giancarlo will join current commissioners Mark Wetjen and Scott D. O’Malia to round out the five-person commission. All three nominees were approved by voice vote. The CFTC, which is charged with regulating futures and options markets, has overseen several high profile proceedings in recent years, such as the MF Global Collapse in 2011. The new Commissioners will be tasked with implementing and enforcing the CFTC increasing scope of oversight responsibilities following the 2010 passage of Dodd-Frank financial rules changes.

NAWG Joins USW-Hosted Trade Team from Brazil
NAWG staff joined U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and five executives representing the largest flour mills in Brazil for a tour of wheat farms in Maryland and a grain export facility in Virginia this week. The executives will be in the U.S. through June 7 learning about the condition of the U.S. soft red winter (SRW) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat crops as well as the wheat supply system. Brazil imports around 260 million bushels of wheat per year on average, making the country one of the world’s top wheat buyers. With Argentina unable to meet Brazil’s needs in marketing year 2013/14, Brazil turned to U.S. wheat and bought nearly 158 million bushels (4.3 million metric tons) making the country our top wheat buyer for the year. USW, the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, the Virginia Small Grains Board and Kansas Wheat sponsored this trip.

USDA Announces Continuous CRP Signup & One Year Contract Extensions
On Monday, June 9, Farm Service Agency offices will start accepting continuous sign-ups through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized CRP, making several modifications to the program and lowering the overall program acre cap to 24 million acres. The CRP Transition Incentive Program (TIP) continued in the Farm Bill will also accept applications beginning on Monday. CRP TIP provides two years of payments for retiring farmers that transition CRP acres to beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers and military veterans. As part of the Farm Bill provisions, qualifying CRP general sign-up contract holders will be allowed early release from their contract without penalty in fiscal year 2015. USDA has also announced that they will not be holding a general sign-up this year, but instead will be offering one-year contract extensions for general sign-up contracts expiring this year. For additional information, please visit your local FSA office.

 EPA’s Plan to Cut Carbon Emissions
On Monday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Clean Power Plan in reaction to President Obama’s plan to for cleaning up the environment, and confronting climate change. Through this proposal states will be required to submit plans by June 2016 to cut carbon pollution. In their plans, states can write parameters specific to their own state, which allows for the flexibility to identify certain areas to focus on, and create relevant guidelines to achieve. Additionally, states can develop plans that will work in conjunction with pre-existing guidelines for power plants to improve efficiency and reduce pollution. With the Clean Power Plan, according to the EPA, by the year 2030, carbon emissions from the power sector will be cut by 30 percent, particle pollution, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide will be reduced by 25 percent, and electricity bills will be reduced by approximately 8 percent because of increased efficiency. To learn more about the Clean Power Plan, click here.

Cochran Heading for Runoff in Mississippi Senate Race
Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) came up short on Tuesday to claim the GOP nomination in the Mississippi Senate race. State Senator Chris McDaniel edged out Cochran receiving 49.6 percent of the vote to Cochran’s 48.8 percent with only a difference of about 2,500 votes between the two. Since neither candidate received 50 percent of the vote they will face each other in a runoff on June 24, according to the latest reports. McDaniel has the backing of many conservative groups including the Club for Growth and Tea Party Patriots, while Cochran is depending on his own campaign fundraising as well as the Republican National Committee and the Mississippi Conservatives super PAC. Cochran has served in the U.S. Senate since 1978, holding many leadership roles for the state of Mississippi and is currently serving as the Ranking Member on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

 A few wheat states also had primary elections on Tuesday, including South Dakota and Montana. Former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds won the Republican nomination for Senate and will face Democrat Rick Weiland in the general election this fall. The winner will fill the seat of retiring democratic Senator Tim Johnson. Sitting Sen. John Walsh, (D-Mont.) will face GOP challenger Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) to fill the Senate seat formally held by Max Baucus while state Sen. Ryan Zink will take on democratic nominee John Lewis to fill the vacated House seat that Daines has given up to run for Senate.

National Festival Highlights Wheat
NAWG will be joining farmers, bakers, millers, wheat weavers and educators in greeting visitors to the United States Botanic Garden on Saturday, June 14 as part of the Amber Waves of Grain Family Festival. The festival runs from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and highlights the USBG’s summer exhibit on the history and beauty of the wheat.  For more information on the Amber Waves of Grain exhibit, click here.