“The CEO’s Report is intended to provide a very quick overview of the CEO’s activities from the prior week. It isn’t intended to provide detail about individual meetings or events, just a summary of where we are spending time and resources on behalf of our growers. If you have questions or would like more information on any topic, please contact Blake through either the League or Commission office.
Week of 3/5/17 – It was very nice to have a few days in the office to catch-up on several weeks of accumulated emails and other correspondence. There were plenty of legislative issues to consider and some follow-up to do with our Congressional delegation on fire/APH and falling number issues.
I did make a short trip to the eastside to spend some time in the Pendleton office, attend an Oregon Wheat Foundation Board meeting, and make a presentation on the new Worker Protection Standards and give a legislative report to a Sherman and Wasco county grower dinner.
Week of 2/26/17 The final jam packed week of February started with our annual Grower’s Workshop. We had a very engaged group of growers and family members who spent a couple of days with us in Portland to learn about how the Commission works, how their assessment dollars are used, how wheat is graded and loaded for export, how customers use the wheat they grow to make products, and what is happening in domestic and international markets. The growers were very positive about the Workshop.
From the Grower Workshop, I headed out to San Antonio for the NAWG meeting held in conjunction with the Commodity Classic. The NAWG meeting was almost exclusively focused on setting wheat’s priorities for the next farm bill.
Worked in around the meetings and travel was preparation of my column and an article on the DC and Salem lobby trips for the magazine.
Week of 2/19/17 – Monday found me with a good cup of coffee (actually several cups), reading through 14 research and funding proposals for FY2018, submitted to the Commission. It took many hours to go through everything, but it was necessary background to prepare for the Commission meetings later in the week. The Wheat Industry Advisory Committee (WIAC), made up of Commission and OSU College of Ag representatives kicked off these meetings with a detailed discussion of OSU budget issues and how they impact wheat research, Extension, and facilities like CBARC. After the WIAC meeting, the Commission began to hear presentations from individual researchers about their proposed projects, funding needs, and potential returns to growers. The presentations provided good information and background to Commissioners and will be helpful in constructing the FY 2018 budget. The Commission meeting continued into Thursday, with additional discussion on research projects, a report on the USW Winter Conference, market updates, and other issues.
Most of the rest of the week was focused on legislative issues, including property taxes on farm land and equipment, the Pesticide General Permit, and carbon cap and trade
Week of 2/12/17 – The week found me back on the road again, starting with the League’s annual visit to Salem for EC and Board meetings, our reception for legislators, the celebration of Oregon’s birthday as a state, and our grower lobby day. All of our events were very well attended and successful. We had 14 growers and 2 OSU ag students participate in our lobby day and we were able to visit with 26 legislators (or their staff). Over 40 legislators, along with other guests, attended our reception. Governor Brown joined us to cut the cake for the Oregon Birthday celebration in the Capitol Galleria and made some nice comments about the importance of Oregon wheat.
Right after the Salem meetings, I headed to Spokane for the regional falling number research meeting. Friday found me back in Salem for an Oregonians for Food and Shelter meeting.
Preparations for the upcoming Commission meeting and research review were worked in around the meetings and travel.
Week of 2/5/17 – After surviving the trip to Washington, DC, it was time to focus on finalizing the plans and materials for the League Board meeting and lobby visits set for next week. Thanks to lots of help from Amanda Dalton and Sally and Marilyn in the League office, we got our Board meeting program settled, confirmed our speakers, prepared our 1-pager of key issues for our legislator visits, invited legislators and guests to our reception, scheduled a long list of legislator appointments for our lobby day, and organized a panel of growers for a presentation on the wheat industry to the House Committee on Economic Development and Trade.
I also put together materials for an OR Wheat Foundation Board meeting and a joint meeting of Sherman County wheat growers and OR Farm Bureau members. Unfortunately, both meetings were casualties of the weather, but only after I was halfway to Pendleton on Wednesday. The slow drive back and forth through the Gorge, helped me appreciate the difficulties the extended winter has caused to the eastside.
Week of 1/29/17 – The trip to Washington, DC, for the National Association of Wheat Growers/US Wheat Associates Winter Conference was the focus for the entire week. My week started on Sunday with travel to DC, so we would be able to travel out to Beltsville, MD first thing Monday morning to meet with representatives of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. Our discussions, with several National Program Leaders for ARS, focused on funding for the ARS-Pendleton facility and staff. Joining me for this meeting were Tyler Hansell, Alan von Borstel, Bob Newtson, and Darren Padget. The growers did a great job of explaining the importance of the research effort at ARS-Pendleton, making the case to restore full funding in the FY 2018 budget. We will not know how successful we were until the budget proposals come out.
In separate meetings with ARS and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, we teamed with representatives from WA and ID to press for funding for falling number research.
Our lobby team, Dana Tuckness, Brent Cheyne, Hansell, and von Borstel, also met with representatives of USDA’s RMA, FSA, and NRCS to discuss, crop insurance and APH issues, conservation programs, falling numbers, and other issues. All the agency folks were happy to meet with us and hear our concerns, but there was clearly an air of hesitancy on their part about making any commitments or policy statements until the Trump Administration appointees are in place.
We were able to connect with most of our Congressional delegation, including in-person visits with Senators Wyden and Merkley, and Representatives Walden, Schrader, and Bonamici. Our “asks” focused on support for our most critical Farm Bill programs, research funding for ARS-Pendleton and falling number work, support for the WTO cases against China, protecting critical infrastructure (like the Columbia and Snake River navigation system) from ESA challenge, and pressing RMA to address our APH-fire issue. Our visits were very positive.
The NAWG and USW conference agendas were pretty standard fare; lots of focus on preparing for the next Farm Bill, increasing funding for the MAP and FMD programs that are critical for the USW international marketing efforts, industry communications, the new Administration’s approach to trade, and other issues.
Week of 1/22/17 – The bulk of the week was spent on preparations for the NAWG/USW Winter Conference in Washington, DC, including our briefing papers and other materials for our lobby visits to our Congressional delegation and federal agencies. Our briefing papers are focused on the next farm bill, funding for ARS-Pendleton, support for the WTO actions against China, and forcing RMA to address our issue with APH adjustments for fire damages. A special emphasis, coordinated with WA and ID, will be placed on getting federal funding for a major research effort on falling numbers. A mid-week conference call, with the League’s Executive Committee, was held to review the materials and plans for the DC trip.
I also attended an ODA meeting on key farm bill programs and an ORULE meeting to hear presentations on developing a new transportation plan by House Speaker Tina Kotek, Senator Lee Beyer, and Karmen Fore from Governor Brown’s staff.
Week of 1/15/17 – While the Oregon legislative session doesn’t officially begin for another couple of weeks, it seemed that work to prepare for the session consumed most of last week. I attended an Oregonians for Food and Shelter Board meeting and a ag/natural resources lobby meeting, both focused on reviewing bills that have already been filed. In addition, Amanda Dalton and I also sat down and did a comprehensive review of legislative proposals; discussing OWGL positions and strategies. There will be many more proposals to consider when the session begins. Unfortunately, the recent trend of harmful ag, natural resource, labor, budget, and tax bills appears to be continuing for the 2017 session. There will be plenty to talk about when we hold our lobby days in Salem on Feb. 13th and 14th.
Other tasks for the week included preparing a summary of comments received on the USW Strategic Plan for the Commissioners, attending the Dunn Carney Ag Summit, and interviewing Bob VanderZanden, a Washington County farmer interested in being appointed as the State Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency.
Week of 1/8/17 – The work on creating a research initiative focused on falling number issues continued this week, with a meeting of Tri-State Commission representatives in Portland. The group developed more complete descriptions of the various research questions to be addressed and our “ask” for federal research funding. Work by the state execs continued through the week to get everything down on paper. There were also two NAWG conference calls on getting change in how crop insurance handles quality adjustments like low falling numbers.
I was able to participate in one of the OSU Extension meetings in the Valley (second one was cancelled due to the snow/ice storm that shut down much of OR) and provided a short presentation on current League and Commission activities and the Trump transition process. The balance of the week was getting started on appointments and materials for our DC lobby visits to agencies and our Congressional delegation.
Week of 1/1/17 – With 2016 in the rearview mirror, 2017 opened with a reminder that there really is a winter season in the PNW. Completing work on materials for the magazine and catching up on emails, bills, and other stuff that accumulated over the holidays occupied the first part of the week. I attended a meeting (one of many over the next few weeks) of the ag/natural resource lobby to review issues and prepare for the 2017 legislative session. I also did preparatory work for meetings next week, including a Tri-State Commission working group meeting on falling number research and OSU Extension meetings in the W. Valley.
Week of 12/25/16 – My time off for the holidays continued this week, although I did work on my column and other articles for the next edition of the Oregon Wheat magazine.
Week of 12/18/16 – The week of the 18th was spent on vacation visiting family before the holidays, although I confess I did monitor emails and listened in on a couple conference calls (don’t tell my wife).
Week of 12/11/16 – The last major week of work before taking some time off for the holidays was focused on a whirlwind trip to Washington, DC with representatives from WA and ID wheat organizations. The WA folks were particularly interested on visiting USDA agencies during the transition period to the Trump administration and continuing to press on falling number issues.
Our first session was with managers from APHIS, GIPSA, and FAS to discuss last summer’s GE wheat event in WA. We had a good discussion, part “after action report” and part looking forward to what work might be done to be better prepared for possible issues in the future. From there we met with: representatives of NRCS on CSP issues, eliminating the SAMS number requirement, and cover crops; FSA on CRP issues, ARC/PLC elections and data, Loan Deficiency Payments, and other Farm Bill issues; ARS and GIPSA on the need to develop better falling number tests and research into the genetic triggers for low FN events; and RMA on falling number discounts and their impact on APH, how the crop insurance program handles cover crops, and our wildfire/APH issue. I would say our meetings were productive and went well, with the possible exception of RMA. That meeting seemed a repeat of meetings we have had over the last few years; great to hear from you, we want to help, but get back to us next year.
I was also able to connect with both Senator Wyden’s and Senator Merkley’s staff. It was a good chance to update them on recent events and issues and set the stage for our lobby visit during the Winter Conference meeting at the end of January.
Week of 12/4/16 – The BASF sponsored media day was on Monday and featured presentations by me, Steve Wirsching of US Wheat, and Janice Cooper of the Wheat Marketing Center. Several reporters were present, including Eric Mortenson of Capital Press, and BASF recorded all the presentations for media representatives that were unable to attend. Following the media event, I traveled to Pendleton for the Oregon Wheat Commission meeting on Tuesday. The Commission meeting included some good discussions on how to handle research funds for the 2017/18 fiscal year. A number of CBARC scientists and Liaison Committee members were able to participate in the meeting.
The balance of the week was spent on a variety of tasks; finishing up materials for the DC trip, some preliminary planning for a potential trade mission to Chile and Peru in the spring, and a meeting of the ODA Advisory Committee on Ag Water Quality. I also had a chance to participate in a get acquainted meeting with Alexis Taylor, the next Director for ODA. I think all in attendance were impressed with her and will be supporting her confirmation by the Oregon Senate.
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