Wheat Researchers and Farmers Take to Capitol Hill to Discuss Research Priorities for Wheat

Posted March 21, 2018

The first day of spring also marked the conclusion of the 2018 National Wheat Improvement Committee Fly-in, where more than 20 researchers and farmers from across the country visited Capitol Hill to discuss with Members of Congress and their staff the importance of federal funding of research to the wheat industry. The National Wheat Improvement Committee is comprised of 24 members, representing regional public and private sector researchers, growers and the food processing industry.

According to Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers, “Growers are dealing more and more with extreme weather conditions, disease, and pest challenges, which can only be addressed through public and private research efforts.” He said, “In order to maintain an adequate food supply and keep the United States as the source of premier quality wheat on the world market, we must have robust and stable federal, state, and private investment in wheat research.”

During their meetings, National Wheat Improvement Committee researchers made specific FY2018 and FY2019 Ag Appropriations requests including maintaining and/or increasing the funding levels for NIFA Hatch Act (at least $243.7 Million), Smith-Lever Formula Grants (at least $300 Million) and Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (at least $375 Million). The National Wheat Improvement Committee also requested a funding increase of $1.3 million for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative to bring appropriated funding levels to the $10 million authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.

National Wheat Improvement Committee members put in an ask of a $2.44 million increase for the Small Grains Genomic Initiative. Lastly, National Wheat Improvement Committee supports the inclusion of report language in the final FY 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill to direct $1 Million to address the issue of financial losses and potential losses of export markets due to weather-induced poor end-use quality as indicated by low Falling Numbers. The same language should be included in the FY 2019 Ag Appropriations.

Goule says, “We believe the National Wheat Improvement Committee’s appropriations requests will help maintain and improve the success of the public wheat research community and strengthen and increase the much needed public-private partnerships. The National Association of Wheat Growers will continue to work with Congress during the 2018 Farm Bill reauthorization to ensure a strong and well-funded research title is included in the legislation.”