During NAWG’s board meeting at the Commodity Classic, the directors elected a new officer team. Kansas farmer David Schemm was elected President; Oklahoma farmer Jimmie Musick was elected Vice President; Texas farmer Ben Scholz was elected Treasurer; Michigan farmer David Milligan was elected Secretary; and Montana farmer Gordon Stoner was elected Past President. Here are additional highlights from NAW meetings.
Domestic and Trade Policy Committee
NAWG’s Domestic and Trade Policy Committee has jurisdiction over a wide range of topics. This meeting primarily focused on reviewing expiring policy resolutions, considering new policies, and debating NAWG’s Title 1 and crop insurance priorities in the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization process, as well as trade policy. The Committee also discussed NAWG’s ongoing work to identify ways to address problems associated with quality discounts.
Environment and Renewable Resources Committee
The NAWG Environment and Renewable Resources Committee also reviewed expiring policy resolutions and new resolutions brought before the committee. Members also participated in a discussion of conservation priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill. The Committee, and subsequently the Board, approved new resolutions related to the operation of NRCS conservation programs and exempting conservation payments from System for Award Management (SAM) requirements.
Research and Technology Committee
The Research and Technology Committee was briefed with an update on the National Wheat Improvement Committee Fly In, which will be held March 19-21. There is a full slate of attendees for the fly in to DC, comprised of farmers and wheat researchers, scheduled to advocate for continued research funding through the USDA. There is a strong list of experts coming in for the fly-in for Hill visits to stress importance of wheat research.
Also, the Committee was updated on the status of the National Wheat Yield Contest and award ceremony for the 2016 national winners. The contest basically remains the same as the first year, with the rules committee reviewing the potential to add a quality testing component into the contest.
After industry partner updates, the Committee reviewed all its technology policy resolutions previously approved that were nearing “sunset” status. These resolutions were either renewed or amended if still relevant, or left to expire if no longer appropriate. Noteworthy was the addition of two NEW policy resolutions approved to support research aimed at improving quality assessment around wheat starch or Falling Number (FN). The Pacific Northwest (PNW) wheat industry has suffered from repeated wide-spread financial losses due to weather-induced problems resulting in poor end-use quality as measured by low FN. The FN test detects starch degradation due to alpha-amylase enzyme activity and perhaps other unknown factors in wheat flour. Low FN indicates the presence of too much alpha-amylase enzyme in the flour, leading to problems with poor quality baked goods. The Committee approved resolutions to support genetic research to reduce the risk of FN as well as a resolution to develop a more consistent, reliable test method.
President Schemm Hits the Hill
Following Commodity Classic, newly elected President David Schemm ran home to Kansas briefly to do a day of field work before hitting the road again to Washington, D.C., for a couple of days of meetings. With the start of the 115th Congress, there are several new Members of the House Agriculture Committee. Schemm and NAWG staff visited several of those offices to provide them information about NAWG and wheat generally, as well as to discuss the current difficult economic conditions in wheat country and the associated need for maintaining a strong Farm Bill. NAWG is holding these meetings in order to develop relationships early on with new offices ahead of the Farm Bill reauthorization process.
House Agriculture Committee Keeps Full Schedule
The House Agriculture Committee is keeping its plate full through the month of March. On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture held a hearing to examine international market development programs. During the hearing the Subcommittee heard from Dr. Gary Williams from Texas A&M University who discussed his recent study about the economic impact of the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program.
On Thursday, the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit held a hearing to review USDA’s rural development and energy programs. And next Wednesday, the full Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the possible opportunities for rural America that could result from potential tax reform. Visit the House Agriculture Committee’s website for more information.