NAWG Weekly Update, May 11, 2017

Secretary Perdue Announces Creation of Undersecretary for Trade
On May 11, 2017, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). As part of a reorganization of USDA, Perdue also announced the standing up of a newly-named Farm Production and Conservation mission area to have a customer focus and meet USDA constituents in the field. Finally, he announced that the department’s Rural Development agencies would report directly to the secretary of agriculture. Read NAWG’s release here.

Wheat Grower Organizations Welcome USTR Confirmation
U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) welcome the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Robert Lighthizer today as the next U.S. Trade Representative. Fair access to international markets is crucial for America’s productive wheat farmers. Our organizations believe Ambassador Lighthizer fully understands that a strong agricultural economy depends on improving free trade opportunities and rules. Read the release here in its entirety.

NAWG Secretary Submits Testimony on the Importance of the Farm Bill to Michigan Agriculture Before Senate Panel
On Saturday, May 06, 2017, NAWG Secretary David Milligan submitted testimony for the record as part of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry’s hearing about how the Farm Bill is critical to the growth of Michigan agriculture. The hearing, entitled “Growing Jobs and Economic Opportunity: Perspectives on the 2018 Farm Bill from Michigan,” featured testimony from a wide variety of agricultural producers and Farm Bill stakeholders, examining agriculture, as well as conservation, rural economic development, research, forestry, energy, and nutrition policies that affect Michigan. Read the release here.

NAWG appreciates the Committee holding this hearing, and is looking forward to working collaboratively with the Committee members to write the 2018 Farm Bill.

USDA Risk Management Agency Releases FAQs 2017 Freeze and Snow in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska
On May 09, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency released its frequently asked questions regarding the late season blizzard that hit Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. The majority of the questions focused on the extent of coverage as it relates to crop loss. Additional questions focused on double crops and options available to growers on how they can dispose of their failed crops.

NAWG and USW Submit Joint Comments on Omnibus Report on Significant Trade Deficits
On Thursday, May 10, 2017, The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associations (USW) submitted comments for the public hearing on an Omnibus Report on Significant Trade Deficits, pursuant to a request for comments from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Department of Commerce. In the comments, NAWG and USW identified policy barriers erected by various countries that limit wheat export opportunities from the United States and stated that if these barriers were removed, U.S. wheat exports would likely grow as a result. NAWG and USW also stated that “ensuring a fair playing field for U.S. producers facilitates wheat exports, resulting in reduced trade deficits and increased revenue and jobs in rural America.” Read the release here and comments are available here:

Senate Ag Committee Holds Full Committee Hearing on PRIA
On Thursday, May 11, 2017,  the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a Full Committee hearing entitled “Pesticide Registration under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act: Providing Stakeholders with Certainty through the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act.” The hearing examined current pesticide registrations. Panel I consisted of Rick Keigwin, Acting Director, Office of Pesticide Programs at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Dr. Sheryl Kunickis, Director, Office of Pest Management Policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Panel II included Mr. Dale Murden, Past Chair of the National Sorghum Producers and Texas Sorghum Producers as well as President of Texas Citrus Mutual; The Honorable Gary W. Black, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Agriculture; Mr. Jay Vroom, President & Chief Executive Officer of CropLife America; and Ms. Virginia E. Ruiz, Director of Occupational and Environmental Health at Farmworker Justice.

USDA Secretary Purdue to Testify to House Ag Committee on the Current State of the Rural Economy
On Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. the House Committee on Agriculture is holding a Full Committee hearing on the “State of the Rural Economy.”  USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue be testifying on the economic outlook in rural America along with his vision for USDA and the role it will play in ensuring that our country continues to enjoy the safest, most abundant, and most affordable food supply in the world.

USDA Production Reports Released
USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its monthly crop production report on Wednesday and the Office of the Chief Economist released an updated World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report.  This updated May NASS report estimates that this year’s winter wheat crop will be 1.25 billion bushels, which is 25 percent lower than 2016 production.  The yield forecast for the year as of May 1 is estimated at 48.8 bushels per acre, which is 6.5 bushels per acre lower than last year’s record of 55.3.  At the class-specific level, the report estimates that Hard Red Winter production will be down 32 percent from last year at 737 million bushels.  Soft Red Winter is projected to be down 14 percent at 297 million acres, White Winter is projected down 13 percent at 212 million bushels with 195 million bushels Soft White and 16.8 million bushels of Hard White production.

As background, NASS conducted the survey between April 24 and May 4, asking producers their expected yields as of May 1.  The sample was of approximately 11,300 farmers representing all major production areas.

Federal Register Notice: Availability of an Environmental Assessment for the Field Release of Genetically Engineered Diamondback Moths
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is making available for public comment an environmental assessment prepared in connection with a permit application for the field release of diamondback moths that have been genetically engineered for repressible female lethality and to express red fluorescence as a marker. The purpose of the proposed field release is to assess the feasibility and efficacy of these moths in reducing populations of diamondback moths that are known plant pests and a serious threat to agriculture. Comments are due on or before May 19, 2017.  Read the Federal Register notice to learn how to submit comments.