NAWG Weekly Update: June 26, 2014

House Passes CFTC Reauthorization
The House passed reauthorization legislation for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on Tuesday. The measure includes provisions that would require electronic confirmation of customer fund account balances held at depository institutions. It would also require the CFTC to conduct cost-benefit analyses of its proposed regulations. Provisions aim to scale back the impact of CFTC rules on farmers and manufacturers that use derivatives to hedge risks and would require the commission to boost the economic analysis of its rules. The CFTC would also have to conduct a study of high-frequency trading, ease restrictions against hedge-fund marketing to mirror looser Securities and Exchange Commission rules and boost the protections for customer funds at futures firms. The CFTC would also have to conduct a review of the metals warehousing industry over concerns of possible price manipulation. The measure now moves to the Senate who is not expected to take up the bill for a couple weeks. NAWG supports improved settlement methods on wheat futures contracts that allow for better convergence of cash and futures markets.

NAWG CEO Visits Ohio
NAWG CEO, Jim Palmer, went to Ohio this week to talk to wheat farmers and members of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association. Palmer had the opportunity to talk about what NAWG is doing and how, with Ohio’s support, the wheat industry can continue to thrive. “I want you to think of NAWG as part of Ohio, a resource to you and I want Ohio and other states to utilize NAWG much more in the future,” said Palmer.  Palmer is looking forward to more opportunities to visit association member states.

NAWG attends North Dakota Grain Growers E-tour
This week the North Dakota Grain Growers Association held their annual E-tour hosting seven employees from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Policy. The tour highlighted pesticide application technology and included visits to farms, seed and pesticide dealers, equipment dealers and a demonstration of aerial application pattern testing and techniques to reduce spray drift potential. The group also discussed North Dakota’s Pollinator Protection Plan and the relationship between growers and beekeepers in the state. NAWG appreciated the opportunity to participate in the tour highlighting the diversity of agriculture production in North Dakota.

NAWG Staff Attends BIO International Convention
NAWG staff attended the annual BIO International Convention this week in San Diego, Calif. The conference, which brings biotechnology organizations from around the world together to discuss policy and issues facing the industry, featured two keynote speakers, founder and CEO of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson, and former Secretary of State and possible Presidential candidate, Hilary Clinton. Clinton expressed her support for the use of genetically modified (GM) seeds, saying, “There’s a big gap between what the facts are and the perceptions.” She also discussed how traits, such as drought tolerance, could benefit farmers in regions such as Africa. In addition to the speakers, NAWG staff attended discussions on a wide array of issues facing today’s biotech industry, such as regulatory delays and the disconnect between industries that support GMO’s and consumers.

USDA Announces Support For Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary, Krysta Harden, announced the implementation of new farm bill measures to improve the financial security of new and beginning farmers and ranchers during the inaugural meeting of the reconvened Beginning Farmer and Rancher Advisory Committee held at the University of California Davis, Calif. She also unveiled a New Farmers website that will provide a centralized resource for beginning farmers and ranchers to access USDA services designed to help them succeed. The website has in depth information for new farmers and ranchers including how to: increase access to land and capital; build new market opportunities; participate in conservation opportunities; select and use the right risk management tools; and access USDA education and technical support programs which have been identified as top priorities by new farmers. USDA will also be announcing additional crop insurance program changes for beginning farmers and ranchers including discounted premiums, waiver of administrative fees, and other benefits.

Cochran Wins Runoff
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) squeaked by on Tuesday in the Mississippi GOP runoff. Cochran and his opponent, State Sen. Chris McDaniel were forced to participate in a runoff because neither candidate received 50 percent of the vote in the June 3 primary. The Associated Press called the race on Tuesday with 98 percent of the precincts reporting and Cochran leading 51 percent to 49 percent. Cochran will now face former democratic Rep. Travis Childers, in a state that has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1982. Cochran is the favorite to win the general election this November, which would lead to him serving his seventh term in the U.S. Senate. In other primary news, Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) won the GOP Senate nomination to possibly fill the seat of retiring Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) also cruised to victory defeating his primary opponent by receiving over 83 percent of the vote.


Please note the NAWG Weekly Update will not be sent next week and will return July 10.