NAWG Weekly Update: September 25, 2014

USDA Announces Information on ARC and PLC Programs
Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack released information on the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs that were created in the 2014 farm bill. ARC and PLC will provide producers protection when there is a substantial drop in crop prices and/or revenues. USDA says that producers will have through early spring of next year to select which program works best for their operation. The first part of the sign up process will start next Monday, Sept. 29, when farm owners can go to their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices to update their yield history and/or reallocate base acres, if they choose to do so. FSA sent letters out to all farm owners this summer with their crop planting history which should help them in the decision on whether to keep their base acres or reallocate them closer to their recent plantings. In order to help farmers make these decisions, USDA helped created online tools that will allow farmers to enter their individual information and see projections about what each program would provide for their operations. The 2014 farm bill providing $3 million to USDA in order to develop these tools to educate farmers. The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri and the Agricultural and Food Policy Center (AFPC) at Texas A&M , along with the University of Illinois developed these tools that are now available for producers.  You can find links to these tools as well as more information on ARC and PLC at our website here. To read the official release from USDA you can visit their website here.

NAWG Attends McFadden Symposium on Wheat Improvement
This week, NAWG second vice president, Gordon Stoner and NAWG CEO, Jim Palmer attended the inaugural Edgar S. McFadden Symposium on Wheat Improvement at South Dakota State University (SDSU) in Brookings, S.D. Stoner, a wheat grower from Outlook, Mont., gave a presentation on the continued need for wheat research funding and NAWG’s ongoing efforts to increase public wheat research funding. Palmer participated in a panel discussion with wheat leaders and experts on policy and international trade. “Wheat accounts for 20 percent of caloric intake for people around the world, and as the world population continues to increase so will demand for wheat. We need to meet this demand. Increased and intensified wheat research is the first step in doing that,” commented Stoner. The Symposium is being held to honor Edgar S. McFadden and his wheat research breakthrough conferring genetic resistance to stem rust. His work is still making a critical difference today. To recognize the important contribution of McFadden and to continue his legacy, SDSU has established the Edgar S. McFadden Endowment for Wheat Improvement to continue research on new varieties and other technologies that serve wheat producers. Click here for more information on the Symposium.

USDA Releases Conservation Compliance Information
USDA posted new information online including fact sheets, questions and answers and an interactive tool to help producers understand new conservation compliance provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill. To be eligible to receive crop insurance premium subsides, producers must have an AD-1026 on file with FSA by June 1, 2015. If you already have an AD-1026 on file and you haven’t made any changes to your operation that might impact your compliance status, you do not need to take any action. The new documents can be found here.

Climate Smart Agriculture Initiative Announced at UN Meeting
This week the Obama Administration announced the U.S.’s participation in the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture. The new Alliance was announced during the United Nations Climate Summit in New York. Participating countries and organizations have committed to incorporating climate-smart approaches to agriculture to improve food security and nutrition. The three aspirational outcomes are: sustainable and equitable increases in agricultural productivity and income; greater resilience of food systems and farming livelihoods and reduction and/or removal of greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture (including the relationship between agriculture and ecosystems), wherever possible. During the launch of the Alliance, USDA Secretary Vilsack said, “Farmers, ranchers and other producers in the U.S. and around the world are feeling the impact of climate change now. They are experiencing production challenges from extended droughts, more severe flooding, stronger storms, and new pests and diseases. The Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture offers the opportunity to collaboratively share knowledge, make investments and develop policies that will empower all producers to adapt to climate change and to mitigate its consequences. Long term global food security depends on us acting together now.”

General Mills Announces Support for Federal GMO Labeling
This week General Mills CEO, Ken Powell, announced support of a “federal labeling solutions that will provide consistent labeling requirements across the country” at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. Powell stressed that the company believes that GMOs are safe to consume, but said the company recognizes that there is a sizable contingent of consumers who prefer to by GMO-free products.