The National Association of Wheat Growers and Representatives from Washington State are urging the Department of Agriculture to include more classes of wheat in the agency’s new farm aid program.
Producers of hard red spring wheat and durum are eligible for inclusion in the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), however other classes including hard red winter, soft red winter, and white wheat are not currently included in the program.
“We want to thank USDA for its work to quickly put CFAP in place and for allowing certain classes of wheat to be eligible under the program,” stated NAWG President and Cass City, MI wheat farmer Dave Milligan. “However, it is unfortunate that the program fails to take into consideration all six classes of wheat. USDA’s methodology behind CFAP neglects to incorporate price drops during the January to April timeframe when wheat farmers were marketing their crop or that local cash prices that farmers were receiving were less than futures prices in many areas of the country. As a result, most wheat growers won’t qualify for CFAP despite being impacted.”
On April 23rd, NAWG issued a letter to USDA demonstrating how the May contract on all three exchanges saw substantial price drops and partial recoveries during the January – April time period.
“It is clear that all wheat producers experienced substantial price losses during the designated timeframe and should be eligible for assistance under CFAP” stated Milligan. “Wheat farmers continue to produce a high-quality crop but disruption in the supply chain, as a result of COVID-19, has negatively affected wheat farmers. The Coronavirus Pandemic is already impacting the wheat market and prices continue to drop even before the implementation of CFAP.”
On June 1, 2020, NAWG sent another letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue asking the Agency to enable all classes of wheat to be eligible for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). NAWG looked at several options for justifying eligibility of all wheat classes and demonstrated them in its letter.
Washington Republican Representatives Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers also presented a request to include three more classes of wheat for coverage in a letter to Secretary Perdue late last week. The letter seeks the inclusion of soft white, hard red winter and soft red winter wheat classes for coverage in the CFAP.
The lawmakers say, “These classes of wheat, like so many other commodities, have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and need assistance under this program.” From January to April, the market for soft white wheat dropped more than 8.5 percent. Soft red winter wheat futures contracts range from $5.77 a bushel to $4.98. And, hard red winter wheat ranged from $5.07 in a bushel in January to $4.23 a bushel in March.
National Association of Wheat Growers / Representative Dan Newhouse / Northern Ag Network