WAWG leaders emphasize farm bill at September DC fly-in

Washington Association of Wheat Growers’ (WAWG) leaders thanked Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), second from left, for her advocacy and passion for Washington state trade. From left are Nicole Berg, WAWG National Committee chair; Cantwell; Marci Green, WAWG president; and Michelle Hennings, WAWG executive director.

Advocacy is like seeding—timing is everything. That’s why the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) held another policy fly-in in mid-September as the conference committee continues to try to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the 2018 Farm Bill. Marci Green, president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG); Michelle Hennings, WAWG executive director; and Nicole Berg, WAWG’s National Committee chair and NAWG secretary, all took part in the fly-in. The other NAWG officers and wheat farmers from 20 other states also took part.

The 2018 Farm Bill and trade were among the topics discussed with Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.). From left are Marci Green, WAWG president; DelBene; and Michelle Hennings, WAWG executive director.

“We had some very productive meetings with our Congressional leaders,” Green said. “We emphasized the need for passage of a new farm bill before the old one expires on Sept. 30. We also talked about the wheat industry’s farm bill priorities, including the need for a strong safety net, funding of conservation programs and risk management.”

While in D.C., Green and Hennings met with nearly every member of Washington state’s delegation. Wheat farmers taking part in the fly-in were able to meet with members of the farm bill conference committee, administration staff and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff from the Farm Service Agency, the Risk Management Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The group also stopped by Rep. Derek Kilmer’s (D-Wash.) office to ask for his support for the farm bill. From left are Green; Kilmer; Nicole Berg, WAWG National Committee chair; and Hennings.

In their meetings, NAWG leaders and farmers pushed for a stronger farm safety net program and improvements to revenue-based (Agriculture Risk Coverage) and price-based (Price Loss Coverage) programs. Increasing funding for Market Access Development and Foreign Market Development programs was also discussed during meetings. Additionally, growers reiterated the need for changes to the current trade environment.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in D.C. this year advocating for wheat growers,” Hennings said. “Thanks to the relationships we’ve developed with our elected representatives, they listen to us when we raise our concerns. We have some great people from both sides of the aisle fighting for us. Farmers are facing a challenging environment right now, especially with the trade issues, so it is crucial that we get a farm bill passed quickly.”

A visit to Washington, D.C., wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.). From left are Michelle Hennings, Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) executive director; Newhouse; Nicole Berg, WAWG National Committee chair; and Marci Green, WAWG president.