|Senate Kicks Off Farm Bill Hearings in Kansas
Today the Senate Agriculture Committee held its first Farm Bill hearing in Manhattan, Kansas. Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) heard from 18 witnesses representing Kansas producer organizations, lenders, electric cooperatives, natural resource interests and other rural community representatives. This hearing marks the start of the Senate’s official work toward the next Farm Bill. Kansas Association of Wheat Growers President and NAWG board member Ken Wood testified on behalf of wheat growers at the hearing. In his testimony, Wood stressed the importance of a farm safety net, including crop insurance, farm programs, and the need to support trade and expand wheat exports. A similar hearing is expected to be held in Michigan later this spring. The House Agriculture Committee is continuing their Farm Bill oversight hearings with Subcommittee hearings next week focusing on International Market Development and Conservation Policy. Both of the Subcommittee hearings will be held on Tuesday, February, 28th. To find out more information about the House Agriculture Committee hearing, click here.
NAWG Leaders Participate in Wheat Quality Council Annual Meeting
NAWG Vice President David Schemm and CEO Chandler Goule were in Kansas City this week, participating in the Wheat Quality Council Annual Meeting. Schemm joined other representatives of the wheat chain for a panel discussion on Wheat Innovation. Tim O’Connor, President of the Wheat Foods Council moderated the discussion that also included Brian Walker from Miller Milling Company, Charlie Moon from Flowers Foods and Brett Carver, a wheat breeder from Oklahoma State University. In his remarks, Schemm emphasized the need for farmers to get a return on the quality wheat they produce. Goule had the opportunity to update attendees about the National Wheat Foundation & NAWG’s National Wheat Action Plan and efforts underway to improve productivity and profitability for wheat growers. The Wheat Quality Council supports the development of new wheat varieties that improve the value of wheat to all parties in the U.S. supply chain.
Bill Introduced to Ease DUNS and SAM Requirements
Representatives Ann Kuster (D-NH) and Rick Crawford (R-AR) introduced, H.R. 1163, the Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act, legislation to improve access to USDA conservation programs. The bill will remove the current requirement that producers obtain Duns and Bradstreet (DUNS) and System for Award Management (SAM) registration numbers in order to receive financial assistance from USDA. This requirement has been troublesome for wheat growers who are seeking to use USDA conservation programs to implement conservation practices on their farm. The DUNS and SAM numbers are typically required for large government contractors, and are not appropriate for individual farmers seeking conservation cost-share assistance. NAWG support this legislation and urges Congress to act quickly to pass the bill.
Senate Confirms EPA Administrator
On Friday, the Senate voted 52-46 to confirm Scott Pruitt to be the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Pruitt was sworn into office later that same day by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Administrator Pruitt faced opposition to his nomination for actions he had taken while Attorney General of Oklahoma, including suing the EPA over the Waters of the US regulation and other environmental policy issues. NAWG and many other agriculture organizations expressed support for the confirmation of Mr. Pruitt and we look forward to working with him in his role as EPA Administrator.
We’ll See You in San Antonio!
We will be off to San Antonio next week for the Commodity Classic. We look forward to seeing many of you in person next week as NAWG reviews policy resolutions, sets new policy, honors the National Wheat Yield Contest winners, hosts our annual PAC auction, says goodbye to President Gordon Stoner and welcomes new officers. Of course Gordon won’t be going far, just transitioning to Past President, but we hope you can join us to thank him for his leadership this past year.
We will not distribute a newsletter next week, but will be in touch again on March 9th.
Source: National Association of Wheat Growers