NAWG Weekly Updates, December 14, 2017

NAWG Attends 2017 Prairie Grains Conference
NAWG’s VP of Policy and Communications Josh Tonsager attended the 2017 Prairie Grains Conference on December 12-13, 2017 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, ND. Tonsager spoke to both the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers Board of Directors and the North Dakota Grain Growers Association board, providing them policy updates about the Farm Bill, tax reform, and trade.

Tax Reform Package Anticipated Next Week
The Tax Conference Committee met this Wednesday for a public hearing. While details were not provided about the negotiations having potentially been finalized, media reports have been providing details that are likely to be included in the final package. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brady (R-TX) stated that a conference report would be finalized by Friday. This would set up the Senate and House to hold votes on a final deal early next week sending the package to be President Trump’s desk to be signed. NAWG staff continue to be engaged with leaders on the tax reform package urging for fixes to concerns that have been outlined in the letter sent to all conferees.

House Ag Launches New Farm Bill Landing Page and Video
The House Committee on Agricultrue has launched a new landing page as well as a “This is the Farm Bill” video. The landing page is designed to provide updates and new information regarding the 2018 Farm Bill. The video, narrated by Representatives Rick Crawford (AR-1), Rodney Davis (IL-13), K. Michael Conaway (TX-11), Frank Lucas (OK-4), Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-5), David Rouzer (NC-7), and Austin Scott (GA-8) emphasizes how farmers and ranchers are feeding more people with fewer resources than ever before while making an effort to keep agriculture sustainable. In the video they explain how “Our nation’s food security depends on strong agricultural policy.”

Commodity Organizations Support Science-Based Trade Regulations at WTO Ministerial
On December 14, 2017, the U.S. Wheat Associates and the U.S. Grains Council issued a release praising Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for defending U.S. agriculture against attempts to weaken rules on domestic support at the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires. The statements were released as the ministerial meeting ends without appearing to reach any substantive achievements. Read the release here.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing re “The Future of NAFTA”
On December 12, 2017, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee hearing on “The Future of NAFTA.” Witnesses included Eric Farnsworth, VP of Council of the Americas, Daniel Allford, President of ARC Specialties, The Honorable John D. Negroponte, Vice Chairman of McLarty Associates and Former Deputy of Secretary of State and Former Director of National Intelligence, and Celeste Drake, Trade and Globalization Policy Specialist of The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. All of the panelists who testified argued that withdrawing from NAFTA would be harmful to the economy. Farnsworth specifically argues that withdrawing from NAFTA would be mean “ag exports would immediately suffer.” The webcast of the hearing can be found here.

AEI Paper Recommends More Spending on Ag Research
On Monday, December 11, 2017 at AEI, Philip Pardey, a professor and the director of the International Science and Technology Practice and Policy Center at University of Minnesota, and Vincent Smith, a professor of economics in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University and a visiting scholar at AEI, presented their report which looks at research and development (R&D) funding in a broader farm bill context. The report states that Congress should increase funding for public investments in ag research and development and cut back on “wasteful farm bill spending.”

Please note that AEI has also previously put out other reports arguing for drastic and very harmful changes to crop insurance that would undermine farmers.

Jerry Minore Memorial Scholarship Opportunity for Students in Agriculture
Jerry Minore was a longtime friend of the wheat industry and advocate for wheat farmers. To honor his work and life, his company, BASF, has partnered with the National Wheat Foundation to establish a scholarship for students with connections to the wheat industry who are planning careers in agriculture. The Minore Memorial Scholarship will fund four college scholarships for the 2018-2019 academic year: two $1,500 scholarships and two $1,000 scholarships. Deadline for applications is December 31, 2017. For more information on how to apply, visit the National Wheat Foundation site.

Registration and Housing Has Officially Opened for 2018 Joint USW/NAWG Winter Meeting
The 2018 NAWG/USW Winter Meeting is taking place February 6-10, 2018 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. To register for this year’s conference, visit here. Hotel reservations under the NAWG room block can be made herePlease note the CUT-OFF DATE for making hotel room reservations is Friday, January 12, 2017. You can also view the schedule and register for the conference on NAWG’s website.