WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — A group of researchers, growers and millers met in Washington, D.C., U.S., to discuss wheat research and appropriations priorities for the 2020 fiscal year.

The National Wheat Improvement Committee (NWIC) is composed of 24 voting members whose goal is to communicate, educate and advocate on behalf of the scientific well-being of the U.S. wheat industry.

In addition to meeting with the majority and minority staffs for the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees and Agriculture Committees, the NWIC members met with most of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee Member offices, with over 60 meetings in total.

“To maintain an adequate food supply and food safety, ensure farmers can battle disease and pest pressures, and to keep the United States as the world’s source of premier quality wheat, we must have robust and stable federal, state, and private investment in wheat research,” said Ben Scholz, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG). “We very much appreciate the support of Congress for continued investments in research over the years, and in particular for key provisions in the farm bill research title that will help wheat farmers.”

During the 2018 farm bill deliberations, NAWG and its member states and other stakeholders worked together to achieve a funding authorization increase for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative (USWBSI) from $10 million to $15 million annually. During its meetings, the committee advocated for full funding and pushed for the administration to move forward with implementation of a farm bill provision capping indirect costs for the USWBSI at 10%.

The NWIC also requested increasing the funding levels for the NIFA Hatch Act to $250 million, maintaining Smith-Lever Formula Grants at $300 million, and increasing the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative to $445 million. Moreover, the committee supports a funding increase of a total of $940,000 for the ARS Small Grains Genomic Initiative (SGGI) to bring appropriated levels to the total $3.44 million.

“Through the use of these tax dollars for research, the American consumer has one of the lowest costs of disposable income expense for safe and high-quality food of any nation in the world,” Scholz said. “Whether it be in the form of a land grant or ARS facility, congressional investments in agricultural research has a reach into all districts. NAWG urges Congress and the administration to prevent cuts to funding levels for these research programs as they are vital to the entire wheat value chain.”