Senate Leadership Names Farm Bill Conferees
On August 1, 2018, the Senate named nine conferees to the Farm Bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., named himself and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas, Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas, Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., named Senate Agriculture ranking member Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
NAWG issued a release applauding the Senate for assigning their respective conferees and continuing to move the Farm Bill authorization process forward.
Senate Passes Four-Bill Appropriations Package
On August 1, 2018, the Senate passed four fiscal 2019 spending bills, packaged as a single measure that would appropriate $154.2 billion for departments including Agriculture, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury and Interior.
The Agriculture bill (S 2976) would provide $23.24 billion in discretionary funding and $121.8 billion in mandatory funding, matching the funding levels of the House version of the bill (HR 5961). It is $6.2 billion above President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2019 budget request and $710 million below the fiscal 2018 enacted level. The bill also includes $2.97 billion in discretionary money for the Food and Drug Administration.
The Interior-Environment bill (S 3073) would fund the Interior Department, EPA and related agencies at $35.9 billion, a $600 million increase compared to fiscal 2018 enacted numbers and $7.6 billion more than the Trump administration budget request. Within that total, the Interior Department would see $13.1 billion, a decrease of $200 million compared to the fiscal 2018 number. The EPA would see $8.1 billion, equal to last fiscal year, although it would also get an additional $766 million for EPA water infrastructure programs, bringing its total to $8.8 billion. Notably, the bill lacks the contentious “poison pill” policy riders related to Clean Air Act and Endangered Species Act implementation that House Republicans attached to their bill (HR 6147).
Senate Ag Advances CFTC and USDA Nominees
This week, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry voted to advance two nominees to full Senate. The nominees are Dan Michael Berkovitz for Commissioner of the Futures Trading Commission and James E. Hubbard for Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment at the USDA. The announcement came this week from Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) who continue to applaud the bipartisan work of the committee. The full press release can be viewed at Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry site.
Several agriculture groups, including NAWG, sent a letter of support to Senate leadership.
White House Nominates Science and Technology Policy Director
The Trump Administration has nominated Kelvin Droegemeier to be the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Droegemeier is a native of Oklahoma where he is currently the Vice President of Research and Regents’ Professor of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. He also serves as the Cabinet Secretary of Science and Technology for the state of Oklahoma. Droegemeier served two six-year terms under both President George W. Bush and President Barrack Obama on the National Science Board. In addition, Droegemeier co-founded the National Science Foundation’s Science and Technology Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms and the Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere.
USDA Map Shows Crop Land Use Nationwide
This week, Bloomberg released a map on how Americans utilize their land to create wealth. Bloomberg used data maps from the USDA on acres of land that were developed in conjunction with surveys, satellite images and data from other agencies to show the amount of land used for agriculture purposes in comparison to urbanization. According to the data, cropland accounts for roughly a fifth of the continental U.S. Approximately 41% of the land area is used for livestock purposes, between pasture and producing feed. The map also illustrates the growth of urban communities, showing that these land areas have quadrupled since 1945.
Precision Ag, Biotech Top White House Research Priorities
The White House is telling federal agricultural research agencies to put a priority on developing precision agriculture technologies and ensuring the safety of gene-edited plants and animals. The White House Office of Management and Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a memo that outlines the administration’s federal research priorities for fiscal 2020. The document says precision agriculture research should focus on developing ways to “minimize agricultural inputs and maximize the quantity and quality of agricultural products.” The biotech research should focus on “the safety of microorganisms, plants, and animals developed using gene editing, in order to greater leverage biotechnology products for agriculture.”
NWF Seeking for WILOT Applicants
The National Wheat Foundation’s Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow (WILOT) program will be taking place in St. Louis, MO, from November 11-16th, 2018 and seeks applicants to participate. This week-long training program that is sponsored by Monsanto is geared towards current leaders and those who soon could take on leadership positions at the state and national levels for wheat organizations. The program will focus on personal leadership, communicating to earn the public’s trust, agricultural policy, advocacy skills, and media and messaging training. Thanks to Monsanto, this program will not cost state associations or farmers any money to participate. Please contact Craig Berning, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are interested or would like to nominate someone to participate by Monday, September 3rd.
SHP Launches New Social Media Campaign
The Soil Health Partnership has launched a new 2018 social media campaign to spread the word about soil health and the innovative management practices that make a difference. The #SoilSmart social media campaign is designed to build the following on Soil Health Partnership’s social media channels, reach new farmer audiences and provide helpful content to spread awareness of soil health. The campaign kicked off on August 1 on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
American Soybean Association Joins Farmer for Free Trade
This week, American Soybean Association (ASA) announced that the organization will becoming a member of Farmers for Free Trade (FFT). FFT is a bipartisan campaign that works to voice the trade policy needs for farmers, ranchers, and ag businesses across the nation. ASA joins several agricultural organizations, including NAWG, who partner with FFT in efforts to voice the agricultural community’s concerns toward the current trade climate. According to a statement by CEO Ryan Findlay, ASA’s participation in FFT is an opportunity to advocate for new trade agreements and expand trade markets. View the full statement on the ASA website.
Source: National Association of Wheat Growers