WASHINGTON, D.C. - More than 40 wheat researchers, growers and users are heading to Washington, D.C., early next week to educate Members of Congress and the Obama Administration about the importance of publicly-funded wheat research.

Wheat research funding is under threat as Congress looks to make significant cuts to government programs. Research funding is considered discretionary, unlike mandatory farm, conservation and nutrition programs, and must serve many local and regional programs working on geographically and agronomically adapted varieties for producers.

Wheat is grown on about 55 million acres of U.S. land and relies on public funding for research and variety development. More than 75 percent of U.S. wheat acreage is grown with varieties developed by public research programs.

According to USDA's Economic Research Service, public investments in wheat research yield substantial results, with $10 returned to the economy for every $1 invested.

Fly-in participants will canvass the Hill and meet with USDA officials to tell them this story and to describe the importance of wheat research to their particular segment of the industry.

To reach out to media, NAWG will hold a media availability in its Capitol Hill offices and by phone on Tuesday, Feb. 8, from 5 to 6 p.m. Eastern (D.C.) time. To RSVP and get call-in information, please contact Melissa Kessler in the NAWG office at mkessler@wheatworld.org or 202-547-7800.

NAWG staff has organized the fly-in, which is again being done in conjunction with wheat breeders who are members of the National Wheat Improvement Committee. Following the resounding success of "wheat chain" meetings during last year's Urban Wheat Field, miller and baker representatives will also be participating in the fly-in activities.

For more on the importance of wheat research, please visit www.wheatworld.org/research.

SOURCE: National Association of Wheat Growers