NAWG Weekly Update: May 15, 2014
Wheat Crop Suffers from Drought
Last Friday, the World Agricultural Outlook Board released its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report that included the latest production estimates for wheat as well as other commodities. The report concluded that U.S. wheat supplies for 2014/15 are projected to be down 10 percent from 2013/14. Production is projected at 1,963 million bushels, down 8 percent, wheat yield is projected at 42.7 bushels per acre, down 4.5 bushels and the all wheat season-average farm price is projected at $6.65 to $7.95 per bushel. The drought across the middle of the country plays a large role in the decline of production. Kansas, one of the top wheat producing states, is in its third year of drought with more than half of the state currently classified as being in a drought. Oklahoma has been even harder hit, with a majority of the state in absolute drought. The Kansas City Star featured an article Monday on the drought with comments from the chairman of NAWG’s Research and Technology Committee, Gary Millershaski, a wheat farmer from Lakin, Kans. To read more about the drought and get Gary’s perspective, visit http://www.kansascity.com/2014/05/12/5019641/kansas-winter-wheat-crop-looking.html.
PPC Extension Request Granted for Worker Protection Standard
NAWG’s request along with other members of the Pesticide Policy Coalition (PPC) to extend the public comment period for EPA’s Proposed Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) revisions through August 18 was granted. The extended comment period is necessary due to the complex nature of the proposal. The proposal sets to change the following WPS requirements: training for workers and handlers, notifications to workers and handlers, hazard communication, information exchange, handler restrictions, restrictions for worker entry into treated areas, display of basic pesticide safety information, decontamination and emergency assistance, personal protective equipment, monitoring handler exposure to cholinesterase inhibiting pesticides, exemptions and exceptions and general revisions to the WPS and implementation of the proposal. To view the coalition letter visit https://wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/WPS-Proposal-PPC-EPA-Comment-Ext-Ltr-April-2014.pdf.
Mandatory Labeling of Foods Would Increase Food Prices
Researchers at Cornell University confirmed this week that the mandatory labeling of foods with GMO ingredients would increase the cost of food for consumers across the state of New York if the state assembly were to pass the labeling law currently under consideration. In the study, Dr. Bill Lesser concluded that an average New York family of four would be forced to pay an additional $500 in food costs annually, in addition to the millions of dollars it would costs the state to implement and monitor labeling.
The study underscores the importance of The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which would establish a voluntary federal labeling standard for foods and beverages made with genetically modified ingredients. The proposed legislation authorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require safety reviews of all GMO traits, as well as mandatory labels on such foods if they are found to be unsafe or materially different from foods produced without GM ingredients. In addition, the bill would eliminate the confusion and uncertainty of a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling laws by affirming the FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of genetically modified food ingredients. NAWG supports the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, and is a member of The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food. For information on NAWG’s policy on GMOs and biotechnology, visit https://wheatworld.org/issues/biotech/.
Rep. Lucas Talks Waters of the U.S.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas recently submitted a column to Tulsa World discussing the EPA proposal to expand the definition of “waters of the United States” for Clean Water Act (CWA) programs. Concerns remain about EPA’s use of the “significant nexus” definition to determine what other waters are connected to traditional navigable waters under the CWA. Rep. Lucas states “this proposed rule expands federal control of land and water resources across the nation and seemingly does so for the sake of more control. It would defy the Supreme Court on this front, which has made clear there is a limit to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. It would trigger an onslaught of additional permitting and regulatory requirements to protect not our great natural resources, but rather our backyard ponds and agricultural ditches. These requirements would extend to every landowner, not just farmers and ranchers.” Rep Lucas closes by stating, “Protecting our natural resources is a noble cause and one that the agricultural community stands solidly behind, but this proposal is an underhanded way to harm American agriculture and threaten America’s food security.”