Funding request made to House appropriations committee

After months of planning and work, the wheat commissions and associations from Washington, Oregon and Idaho have formally submitted a request to the federal House appropriations committee for $1 million in funding to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to research a test for falling numbers (FN) and $2 million for Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grants to research FN impacts on crop quality.

The letter reads, “…The three PNW state wheat commissions have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in FN research, however the magnitude of the crisis exceeds the available resources at the PNW universities, USDA-ARS and private companies to complete the research needed to address the knowledge gaps. Additional research expertise and capacity is needed.”

Included with the request is a letter of support signed by nine U.S. House members. Led by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the other signees are Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.). In their letter, the representatives say, “We write to you to request your assistance and support to address a crisis facing our nation’s wheat growers and end-users. Across the country, growers have detected high levels of degraded starch in their wheat crops which triggers a devastating loss of value for the crop. We request that the committee provide fiscal year (FY) 2018 funding for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) to help identify the causes of this quality loss, as well as refine the test to detect crop damage.”

The wheat industry’s national organizations, U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers, also expressed support of the appropriations request in their own letters.

“Because falling numbers is a major issue across the Pacific Northwest, we felt it was important to present this request as a joint effort from all three states,” said Michelle Hennings, Washington Association of Wheat Growers’ executive director. “Understanding the causes and impacts of falling numbers and helping growers impacted by this quality issue is one of our top concerns.”

WAWG is also working on the Senate side of the appropriations process. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has taken the lead for the wheat industry, and the association and its members thank her for all her time and effort. Because of the continued resolution process, the Senate hasn’t set appropriation deadlines yet. WAWG is monitoring the Senate’s timeline and will submit the funding request as soon as it’s possible.