WAWG goes to Washington (D.C. that is)

Trade, farm bill implementation top list of grower concerns in discussions with federal delegation

Washington Association of Wheat Growers leaders and staff barely had time to unpack their suitcases from the 2019 Olympia Days trip before flying off to Washington, D.C., to meet with Washington state’s federal delegation and participate in the National Association of Wheat Growers’ winter meetings.

“Winter is our meeting time, the time when growers can more easily get away from the farm to take care of the business of advocating for our industry,” said Michelle Hennings, executive director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG). “Our meetings on Capitol Hill are a chance to interact with our federal delegation and build on the relationships we’ve developed. We also take part in committee meetings, which provide direction for our national wheat organization, the National Association of Wheat Growers, or NAWG.”

The importance of trade and implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill were the main topics discussed with legislators (see box for other topics). WAWG was able to meet with nearly every member of the state’s federal delegation or their aides. They were joined by members of the Washington Grain Commission and Derek Sandison, director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Wheat growers also met with top agency officials including:

  • The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers where the Columbia-Snake River System was discussed, including the importance of the Snake River dams.
  • The U.S. Department of Interior to discuss the Snake River dams.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service where farm bill conservation programs were discussed.
  • USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) where conservation program and farm bill implementation were the top topics. They also discussed the issue of incomplete or missing data that has been used to determine farm program payments, something that has been a major issue in Washington state.
  • USDA’s Risk Management Agency where the impact of quality discounts on a producer’s actual production history was discussed, as well as farm bill implementation.
  • USDA’s Office of the Secretary to discuss conservation programs.
  • USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to talk about farm bill implementation and the issue of incomplete NASS data being used by FSA to determine farm program payments.

One of the highlights of the trip was the opportunity to meet with members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Wayne Stoskopf and Janae Brady, to talk about the 2018 Farm Bill and trade. Will Stafford, the agricultural legislative assistant for Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kans.), also attended the meeting. The ag committee staffers shared their thoughts on the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement as well as the ongoing trade situation regarding retaliatory tariffs on agriculture.

WAWG was also able to present three Washington legislators with NAWG’s 2018 Farm Advocate award: Rep. Dan Newhouse, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Sen. Maria Cantwell. Former Washington Congressman Dave Reichert also received an award, which WAWG will deliver at a later date.

Washington wheat growers were able to sit down and talk with members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry about trade and farm bill implementation. Pictured (from left) are Janae Brady, senior professional staff, Senate Ag Committee; Wayne Stoskopf, professional staff, Senate Ag Committee; Will Stafford, agricultural legislative assistant for Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kans.); Howard McDonald, secretary/treasurer of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG); Marci Green, WAWG past president; and Michelle Hennings, executive director of WAWG.

Unfortunately, Sen. Maria Cantwell was on the Senate floor, so she was unable to meet with wheat growers. Instead, legislative assistants, Megan Thompson and Jonathan Hale were available. Pictured (from left) are Glen Squires, CEO of the Washington Grain Commission (WGC); Michelle Hennings, executive director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG); Mike Carstensen, WGC commissioner; Ryan Poe, WAWG vice president; Hale; and Thompson.

Washington state wheat growers were proud to give Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers the National Association of Wheat Growers’ 2018 Wheat Advocate Award. Pictured (from left) are Gary Bailey, chairman of the Washington Grain Commission (WGC); Marci Green, past president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG); Howard McDonald, WAWG secretary/treasurer; McMorris Rodgers; Jeffrey Shawver, WAWG president; Joe Bippert, WGC program director; and Mary Palmer Sullivan, WGC vice president.

Trade, farm bill implementation and transportation were all discussed with Rep. Suzan DelBene. Pictured (from left) are Glen Squires, Washington Grain Commission (WGC) CEO; Marci Green, past president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG); Gary Bailey, WGC chairman; DelBene; Michele Hennings, executive director of WAWG; and Ryan Poe, WAWG vice president.

Ben Bruns (third from left), legislative assistant to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, takes notes while the Washington group talks about trade, farm bill implementation and transportation. From left are Glen Squires, Washington Grain Commission (WGC) CEO; Marci Green, Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) past president; Bruns; Michelle Hennings, WAWG executive director; Gary Bailey, WGC chairman; and Ryan Poe, WAWG vice president.

The group talked about trade and farm bill implementation with Sen. Patty Murray. Pictured (from left) are Zach Mallove, legislative assistant to Sen. Murray; Howard McDonald, Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) secretary/treasurer; Glen Squires, Washington Grain Commission (WGC) CEO; Michelle Hennings, executive director of WAWG; Marci Green, WAWG past president; Gary Bailey, WGC chairman; Ryan Poe, WAWG vice president; Murray; Mike Carstensen, WGC commissioner; Jeffrey Shawver, WAWG president; Mary Palmer Sullivan, WGC vice president; Joe Bippert, WGC program director; and Jason Smith, legislative assistant to Sen. Murray.

Rep. Dan Newhouse also received a 2018 Wheat Advocate Award from the National Association of Wheat Growers. Washington growers on hand to present him the award were (from left) Michelle Hennings, Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) executive director; Gary Bailey, Washington Grain Commission (WGC) chairman; Newhouse; Ryan Poe, WAWG vice president; Marci Green, WAWG past president; and Glen Squires, CEO of the WGC.

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