Rep. McMorris Rodgers Supports Wheat Growers’ Request for Assistance with Low Falling Numbers

Sep 27, 2016
Agriculture
Press

Rep. McMorris Rodgers Supports Wheat Growers’ Request for Assistance with Low Falling Numbers

Washington, D.C. (September 27, 2016)–Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) yesterday spearheaded a bipartisan letter to the Risk Management Agency (RMA) asking them to forgo current agency procedures used to calculate wheat growers’ actual production history (APH) due to ongoing low falling numbers test results.

APH measures a grower’s average yield over a multi-year period, meaning that discounts applied due to low falling numbers could have severe long-term impacts on wheat growers.

The Congresswoman’s letter follows a Sept. 2 roundtable discussion with local wheat growers and agriculture industry leaders on what to do about the low falling numbers experienced by wheat growers.

The full text of the letter is below and can be found here.

September 26, 2016

Administrator Brandon Willis
Administrator, Risk Management Agency
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Room 6092-South
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20250

Dear Administrator Willis,

We write requesting that you consider immediately waiving the Risk Management Agency’s (RMA) current rules regarding falling numbers discounting as it relates to determining a producer’s Actual Production History (APH). We are concerned that quality discounts currently assessed at grain elevators will negatively affect future APH average yields for producers, even if growers do not submit claims. As you know, the falling numbers test was developed to determine wheat quality by analyzing the amount of sprout damage present within a given sample of grain. When a falling numbers test for a grain sample is reported at 300 or lower, large discounts are applied to the crop.

This year, wheat growers across the Northwest are experiencing unprecedented difficulties as a result of low falling numbers. As of September 13th, 42 percent of soft white wheat; 43 percent of club wheat; 20 percent of hard red winter wheat; and 10 percent of hard red spring wheat samples have reported falling numbers of 300 or lower. The widespread nature of this problem, coupled with wheat futures dropping to their lowest price in nearly a decade, is a serious threat to economic well-being of wheat growers across the Northwest. The issues of the current year combined with the recent multiple drought years only add to the increasing financial burden wheat growers are facing. As a result of low APH average yields resulting from droughts and current policy many – especially young and beginning growers – are at risk of losing their businesses.

Due to high yields this harvest season, many growers are not submitting crop insurance claims when their wheat samples test between 200 and 300. However, despite growers not submitting a claim, current RMA policy requires crop insurers to reduce the grower’s actual yield based upon falling numbers discounts assessed at the grain elevator. This policy, if not changed, will have a negative effect on a grower’s APH for the next decade. We believe this policy, in effect, penalizes growers for circumstances out of their control, specifically growers who choose not to file a crop insurance claim.

We ask you to reconsider current RMA policy to allow growers who have not made a crop insurance claim to report their actual production without including a falling numbers discount.

Our request supports the request made by a number of state and national agriculture associations and other organizations. Considering the difficult economic situation wheat growers are already experiencing, we believe a change in RMA’s policy could alleviate some of the significant economic burden being felt by growers across the Northwest. Thank you for your consideration on this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Member of Congress

Maria Cantwell
United States Senator

Mike Crapo
United States Senator

Jeffrey A. Merkley
United States Senator

Patty Murray
United States Senator

James E. Risch
United States Senator

Ron Wyden
United States Senator

Suzan DelBene
Member of Congress

Raúl R. Labrador
Member of Congress

Dan Newhouse
Member of Congress

Rick Larsen
Member of Congress

Mike Simpson
Member of Congress

Cc:   Honorable USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

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