The Weekly Grind – April 11, 2014April 11, 2014
NAMA MEMBERS PARTICIPATE IN 2014 LEADERSHIP MEETINGS
Members of NAMA’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee visited Washington, D.C. this week to participate in the 2014 Leadership Meetings. The meeting kicked off on Wednesday with a luncheon featuring Jay Kriss, Interim Director of the Wheat Innovation Alliance (WIA), who discussed the importance of WIA and its plans for the future. Lead by NAMA staffers Jim McCarthy, President and CEO, and Paul Green, International Trade Consultant, members visited the U.S. Department of Agriculture, several Members of Congress, and the Embassy of Canada to lobby on behalf of NAMA key ongoing issues. The members met back on the NAMA office rooftop for an early evening reception with fellow industry associations and allied organizations. On Thursday, NAMA’s Executive Committee met for a business meeting and wrapped up the leadership meetings with a strategic planning session attended by a pre-selected group of NAMA members.
NAMA MEMBERS LOBBY LAWMAKERS ON NEWLY INTRODUCED FEDERAL GMO LABELING BILL
This past Wednesday, NAMA members traveled to Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers on the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (HR 4432), legislation introduced the same day by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS). The bill would authorize the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct safety reviews on all new GMO traits before they are introduced into commerce, remove confusion and uncertainty of a 50 state patchwork of GMO safety and labeling laws, and affirm the FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of genetically modified food ingredients. NAMA members met with Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), as well as staffers with Senator Jerry Moran’s (R-KS) office to convey their support of the bill and the many positive effects its passage would have upon the agricultural industry.
NAMA MEMBERS VISIT USDA STAFF
NAMA members who attended the 2014 Leadership meeting in Washington, D.C. met with Undersecretary Catherine Wotecki and Deputy Undersecretary Ann Bartuska of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), both of whom thanked NAMA for their support of research authorizations, funding in the Farm Bill, and funding requests to congressional appropriators. Project leaders briefed NAMA members on research being done by USDA on plant diseases and nutrition. The group was particularly interested in the Undersecretary’s comments on research authorized in the new Farm Bill that would set up an endowment for matching funds from the private sector in order to jump start research of interest to the agriculture and food industries. NAMA will be reporting more fully on that in coming weeks.
NAMA MEMBERS MEET WITH SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE STAFF
NAMA members met with Anne Hazlett, General Counsel for the Minority, and several other members of the Republican staff at the Senate Ag Committee. The far-ranging discussion included an overview from the staff on their monitoring of USDA’s implementation of the Farm Bill. The staff also provided insight on the process of passing the Farm Bill, explaining that while it was more partisan than previous bills, there remains some sense of cooperation in the implementation. The Republican staff was complimentary of the Administration’s preparation for implementing the bill, particularly the speed with which they have begun implementing the individual provisions. The meeting also touched on the topics of food aid, CRP acreage and research funding.
NAMA MEMBERS MEET WITH CANADIAN EMBASSY
A small group of NAMA’s oat milling members and Paul Green, NAMA’s International Trade Consultant, met with Mike Hawkins, Agricultural Counselor at the Canadian Embassy, to discuss the difficulties in transporting Canadian oat supplies to NAMA mills. Hawkins has been a good cooperative contact in the past, and NAMA continues to coordinate activities with him as the Canadian Government considers regulatory requirements for Canadian rail service. The group also discussed joint action to encourage harmonized truck weight and length restrictions, allowing truck movement of oats as a small, partial release valve while NAMA works its way through the rail bottlenecks.
CHICAGO 30-HOUR TIE-UP FOR BUFFETT’S TRAINS SLOWS COAL: FREIGHT
Come to the west side of Chicago to find out why a power plant in Michigan is short of coal and why a biodiesel maker in Brewster, Minnesota can’t get enough grain. The answer is found near Western Avenue, where rails cars from Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM), the largest U.S. publicly traded ethanol producer, rest idle on the track above the Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway. A short drive away, a burnt orange, yellow, and black locomotive from Warren Buffett’s BNSF railway sits on an overpass as motor traffic is snarled below. To view the full Bloomberg article, visit http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-10/chicago-30-hour-tie-up-for-buffett-s-trains-slows-coal-freight.html.
In regards to this article, we would like to note that on Thursday, April 10, NAMA joined the National Grain and Feed Association in testimony before the Surface Transportation Board, highlighting the concerns of our industry caused by rail shortages and disruption.