WAWG sets out 2017 federal priorities

This week, the leadership and staff of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers is in Washington, D.C., to meet with the state’s federal delegation as well as agency heads. The 2017 federal priorities the association will be discussing include:

WAWG supports maintaining and an increase of funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program. In 2015, for every $1 invested by farmers and with FMD/MAP funding, it returned $149 to the U.S. economy. Between 2010-2014, investment in wheat export promotion increased the annual gross revenue of farmers by $2.5 billion. Agriculture is one of the only industries to provide a positive trade balance, and FMD/MAP are essential tools for maintaining that trade surplus.

• WAWG supports the approval and expansion of trade agreements that provide new market access for US agricultural exports including wheat as a top priority for the U.S. Trade Representative. Eliminating tariffs and import duties levels the playing field for the entire U.S. wheat industry. Exports for 2014 is 8 billion for wheat.

WAWG strongly supports the removal of sequestration of farm program payments. Farm program payments made under the ARC/PLC programs in 2016 were sequestered at a rate of 6.8 percent. With historically low commodity prices, Title 1 programs provide a critical safety net to Ag producers and should not fall under sequestration.

WAWG strongly supports future farm bills to continue to offer agriculture and nutrition support programs.

• WAWG strongly supports publicly funded agricultural research at the fully funded authorized amount in the 2014 Farm Bill at $10 million. Funding agricultural research is a justified federal expenditure and is needed to maintain and enhance the agricultural economy and job creation for safe and economical food production. Due to sequestration, only 6.7 million was appropriated resulting in a 3.3 million shortage.

• WAWG supports Columbia River Treaty efforts which protect the viability of U.S. navigation, hydropower, irrigation and flood control. We urge your consideration and support for river flow and the needs of safe, efficient commercial navigation and rebalancing the Canadian Entitlement during the negotiations of the Columbia River Treaty.

WAWG opposes the removal or breaching of any dams, and excessive spill and flow augmentation within the Columbia-Snake River System.

• WAWG supports congressional clarification that applications of crop protection products do not constitute point sources of pollution under the Clean Water Act when applied in accordance with legally registered EPA labels.

WAWG supports an Endangered Species Act consultation process for pesticide registration that works for all stakeholders.