Farm Bill, Trade hot topics at 2017 fall wheat industry conference

Editor’s note: The leadership and staff of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers has been participating in the National Association of Wheat Growers’ fall conference this week, sharing Washington wheat farmer priorities and helping craft the wheat industry’s farm bill message to lawmakers.

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) held its annual fall conference this week in Charleston, S.C.. NAWG’s committees covered a range of topics including the 2018 Farm Bill, NAFTA renegotiation, wheat research funding, trade and conservation.

“With more than 100 growers from across the country huddled together to discuss key policy issues affecting wheat farmers, this year’s fall conference was a success,” stated NAWG CEO Chandler Goule. “The Senate and House Agriculture Committees are deep into discussions around the 2018 Farm Bill reauthorization, and so it was critical to have this conference to ensure growers are aligned on messaging around NAWG’s top priorities and to maintain momentum to improve farm bill programs.”

With trade being a foremost priority for the administration, NAWG and USW’s Joint International Trade Policy Committee had a packed agenda which tackled NAFTA, KORUS and the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program. The NAWG board adopted a resolution that came out of the committee “to encourage the current administration to expedite the creation of bilateral trade agreements as stated or promised to increase agricultural trade.”

“Having a strong trade agenda in place, means strengthening relationships with our current customers and opening up new markets,” stated Goule. “The administration promised us a series of bilateral deals in lieu of TPP and the creation of new markets for wheat, but so far, we haven’t seen that. Instead, its actions are potentially harming relationships with our current partners and preventing new agreements from forming.”

“We are working very closely with NAWG to make sure all the people that have influence over trade policy and export market development programs understand how important these issues are to wheat farmers,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “This joint meeting helps move us forward more effectively.”