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WAWG Applauds Senate Prioritization of Farm Economy Amidst Low Prices

WAWG is hopeful that this hearing will help policymakers better understand the economic circumstances wheat growers are facing.
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"The price of wheat has dipped to decade lows and is not expected to rebound anytime soon, we urge Congress to support the Title 1 crop insurance programs," WAWG President Kevin Klein.

    RITZVILLE, WA, September 23, 2016 /24-7PressRelease/ -- On September 22, 2016 the Senate Agriculture Committee is holding a hearing on the Current State of the Farm Economy, with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testifying. On behalf of the Pacific Northwest grain producers, The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) submitted testimony to the Committee discussing the dire economic conditions in wheat country, conveying the importance of current safety net and risk management tools. With Congress in session for only a limited time this month, The Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) is pleased to see that the Senate Ag Committee has elevated the discussion of the state of the farm economy, particularly given the current low prices.

"Even though Washington State had a better-than-average wheat crop this year, the combination of low prices and high input costs mean many farmers are struggling to simply break even," WAWG President Kevin Klein, a wheat grower from Edwall, Wash., said. "In agriculture, there are so many factors that are out of farmers' hands: low commodity prices, drought, hail, rising cost of fuel, etc. Without a strong safety net to fall back on, one bad year could be the end for many growers."

In recent weeks, the price of wheat has dipped to decade lows and is not expected to rebound anytime soon. With prices so low, Marketing Assistance Loans (MALs) and Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs), which provide short-term cash flow assistance, have been triggered for the first time in several years. Although this kind of support is helpful for growers, it is critical that in the next farm bill, functional farm safety nets are maintained, to protect farmers against circumstances outside their control. This is particularly important for a new generation of wheat growers, who may have started out when prices were better and are not yet properly equipped to survive through periods of extremely low prices. Support programs and risk management tools must be in place to ensure that the increasingly older generations of farmers are succeeded by a new generation of younger farmers.

To prepare for the next farm bill debate, NAWG and WAWG are working on developing priorities by gathering feedback through a grower survey. Additionally, WAWG is hopeful that this hearing will help policymakers better understand the economic circumstances that wheat growers are facing today.

While WAWG is pleased to see that the Senate Ag Committee is paying attention to the declining farm economy that is hurting wheat growers, we urge Congress to continue that support by protecting Title 1 crop insurance programs in the next farm bill. Congress should also oppose destructive efforts by non-agriculture think tanks to undermine the current structure of the crop insurance program and push policies that would hurt farmers. It is the voices of farm organizations which advocate for the survival and success of farmers that should be heard in the conversations about the farm economy. With the farm economy declining, it is imperative that growers are given the support they need to carry on feeding America and the world.

About WAWG:
Education and outreach are the heart of WAWG activity, all of which is aimed at helping Washington wheat families. Since 1954, WAWG has been dedicated to the enrichment of the Washington wheat industry as a nonprofit trade association which depends on volunteers, membership dues and donations to carry out activities as representatives on the state and national levels. WAWG monitors state, transportation, research, natural resources policy and partners with the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WHEAT GROWERS to monitor national farm policy.


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Michelle Hennings
Washington State Association of Wheat Growers

Ritzville, WA
United States
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