|The National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates will be holding their annual Winter Conference in Washington, DC, beginning next Monday and concluding on Thursday. The conference promises to include in-depth debate within NAWG’s policy committees about Farm Bill programs and continuing discussions that have been occurring to establish priorities for the next Farm Bill. NAWG and USW will also hold meetings of their Joint Biotechnology Committee and Joint International Trade Policy Committee, and their full boards will convene a joint board session on Thursday to continue their collaboration on a variety of policy issues. The conference will conclude Thursday afternoon with NAWG and USW both holding their respective board meetings.
On Wednesday, wheat farmers from across the country will hit the Hill to discuss with their Members of Congress the difficult economic conditions in rural America, the importance of maintaining a strong safety net, the role that voluntary conservation programs play in protecting the environment and helping farmers be more productive, the need for regulatory reform, and several funding priorities for FY 2017 and FY 2018 agriculture appropriations. That evening, the groups will hold a reception hosted by BNSF Railway.
NAWG extends special appreciation to BNSF, Syngenta, and WestBred for their generous support of the Winter Conference. NAWG and the National Wheat Foundation also thank Bayer for their generous support of NWF’s Wheat Organization Leaders of the Future program, which will be taking place immediately preceding the Winter Conference.
Senate Agriculture Committee to Hold First Field Hearing in February
On Wednesday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) jointly announced that the Committee would hold its first field hearing of the 115th Congress on February 23, 2017 in Manhattan, KS. The intention of the hearing will be to hear from farmers about how Farm Bill programs have been working for them. The announcement of this hearing is further indication that Congressional efforts to reauthorize the Farm Bill will be beginning quickly. As NAWG will be holding its Winter Conference next week in Washington, DC, we urge producers to come to the meeting ready to discuss and debate priorities for the upcoming reauthorization process.
Trump Administration Freezes Rulemakings
In one of his first actions, President Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a notification to government agencies to “freeze” regulatory actions. This action will require that rules that have been published but have yet to be implemented to be delayed for 60 days. Additionally, rules that have been recently submitted, but that have not yet been published, are to be entirely withdrawn. This delay will allow for incoming political staff appointed by the Trump Administration to review the regulations.
TPP Withdraw Disappointing, Though Not Surprising
The National Association of Wheat Growers recognize that President Trump’s executive order to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was inevitable. It is disappointing, however, that until an alternative trade policy is established, expanded export opportunities in the Pacific Rim markets that could help U.S. wheat farmers at a time when they need it most are very much at risk. Following the announcement, NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates issued a joint statement expressing disappointment in the executive action.
“Without TPP or alternative agreements, U.S. farmers will be forced to the sidelines of trade while losing market share in the region to our competitors including Australia, Canada, Russia and the European Union, which have current agreements or are negotiating new ones with countries outside the network of existing U.S. trade agreements,” said Gordon Stoner, NAWG President and a wheat farmer from Outlook, Montana, following the President’s announcement.
Trade agreements must provide the most benefit possible to our farmers and industries and we continue to support new agreements that expand free, rules-based trade, as TPP would have done, and encourage that agricultural interests be able to continue to provide input into those negotiations.
NAWG, USW Urge President Trump to Prioritize American Commodities in Food Aid
This week, the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates were a part of a coalition of agricultural organizations in writing to President Trump urging him and his administration to prioritize the use of American-grown in-kind commodity contributions through food aid programs. The letter notes that the U.S. has been a global leader in saving and improving lives for over 60 years through the current structure of food assistance to those around the world in need. Additionally, the groups note that cash and vouchers may serve a limited role in certain emergency situations, but the use of commodities serves as the backbone of USDA and USAID food assistance programs.
NAWG Participates in Inaugural Events
Last Friday the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, was sworn in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building. Inauguration Day in Washington, DC includes several events, including the parade from the Capitol Building to the White House. This year’s parade included a Tractor Brigade coordinated by RFD-TV. National Wheat Foundation Chairman Phil McLain was in town with his family to participate in several inaugural events. Phil and several NAWG staff also attended a Bipartisan Celebration of American Agriculture Friday evening.
Source: National Association of Wheat Growers