WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House and Senate continued their two-week spring recess this week. Though the Hill remains quieter than normal, items of importance to agricultural producers continue. Here's a short update; the complete Report will return next Friday, May 6.

SURE Options Clarified for Growers with Disaster Crops

Colorado wheat growers, with devastated winter wheat crops, can be assured that coverage exists for the 2011 harvested crop through the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE). To maintain eligibility for SURE a producer must obtain a policy or plan of insurance or NAP coverage on all crops for which insurance is available. NAWG staff work with agency officials to clarify options that exist for farmers struck by disastrous drought conditions this winter. If the weather changes for the better and farmers are able to plant second crops, the program allows for crops that are determined to be an acceptable double cropping practice in the farmer's particular county.

Officers Spring Meeting

Next week farmer leaders of the National Association of Wheat Growers are traveling to Washington, DC to meet with key decision makers and further association priorities. Federal budget investments and environmental regulations will headline the conversations as well as preparations for upcoming legislation that reauthorizes federal food and farm program. While in town the officer corps will plan for upcoming association programs and activities and network with leaders in the milling industry and others.

NAWG Seeking Summer Interns

The application deadline for NAWG's summer internship program has been extended through May 13th.The internship offers a well-balanced, unique-to-D.C. experience in the day-to-day operations of an agricultural advocacy organization. Selected individuals will assist the government affairs department and other office departments as needed. Specific experiences are likely to include assisting NAWG's government affairs staff, who interface daily with Congress and the Administration as well as conducting policy and industry research and helping with NAWG's weekly newsletter. More information can be found here: http://www.wheatworld.org/about-us/internship-program/

Food Aid Quality Study

Tufts University recently completed a USAID funded study of Food Aid Quality. The full report is available at www.foodaidquality.org. The goal of the study was to evaluate what improvements could be made to US food aid programs to improve nutritional outcomes for beneficiaries. Food aid is used in a wide range of situations where needs vary and the report's recommendations include suggestions on programmatic and procurement improvements as well as suggestions on reformulation and introduction of specific products. More information on the study and next steps will take place at the Food Aid Conference in June.

NAWG Continues Work on Pesticide Issues

NAWG staff continues working with House and Senate members on two key pesticide related issues. The first, HR 872 which passed the House by a vote of 292 to 136 and has since been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. HR 872 solves a problem created by a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision declaring application of pesticides is a point source of pollution requiring Clean Water Act discharge permits; the House passed legislation which clarifies that pesticide applications would not require such permits.

Work also continues alerting and educating House member offices in advance of a joint House Agriculture and House Natural Resource Committee hearing next Tuesday on problems created by an unworkable Endangered Species Act consultation process involving pesticides correctly and lawfully approved and registered by the Environmental Protection Agency. This problem was created by the so-called Washington Toxics lawsuit which found the Environmental Protection Agency in violation of the Endangered Species Act by failing to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service on potential impacts of lawfully registered pesticides on endangered species of salmon. The purpose of the hearing is to expose the problems created by this unworkable process and begin looking for solutions.

SOURCE: National Association of Wheat Growers