WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and other agricultural groups met with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials this week to continue building bridges between the two agencies and the agricultural community.

NAWG President Wayne Hurst, a wheat farmer from Burley, Idaho, U.S., traveled to Washington for the meeting and other legislative visits.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson led the meeting on Dec. 14, with more than a dozen agriculture stakeholder groups sending representatives.

The attendees heard comments from Vilsack and Jackson about their working relationship and continued efforts to ensure EPA is improving its outreach with the agriculture community. Each stakeholder also had the opportunity to make comments and ask questions.

While in town, Hurst and NAWG staff members also held meetings on Capitol Hill, primarily focusing on the likely trajectory of the 2012 Farm Bill process. In those meetings, Hurst described NAWG’s policy-making process and expressed farmers’ desire to balance serious deficit reduction efforts with crafting a workable safety net.

Following failure of an earlier effort to write farm policy provisions into a super committee deficit reduction product, it seems the 2012 bill will be written in regular order, with hearings beginning again in 2012. Still, the chances of success in what is expected to be a very partisan election year are questionable.

Hurst and NAWG staff also met with Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman Daniel Elliott to learn about the board’s priorities.