Inside the 2017 Fall NAWG/USW Conference

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) hosted its 2017 NAWG/USW Fall Wheat Conference in Charleston, South Carolina from October 17-20. The conference consisted of meetings between NAWG board of directors, officers, staff, and NAWG/USW committee members.

My name is Sara Stephens and I am the fall 2017 NAWG Intern. The weeks prior to the conference were full of packaging, preparing, ordering, and a whole lot of communicating. I worked closely with our Director of Communications, Caitlin Eannello, to order sponsorship materials, create brochures, and put together all NAWG paperwork. I helped our Executive Assistant to the CEO, Jennifer Vanderhoff, assemble together our most recent board books. Lastly, our Building Manager, Preston Millard, helped me package and ship all the necessary supplies for the conference.

After arriving for the conference, I spent most of my time preparing committee meetings with necessary materials, aiding any staff members in need, and taking minutes during meetings. I think it was a great experience to listen to so many guest speakers and topic specific policy discussions. It is so invaluable meeting so many farmers and hearing how passionate they are about NAWG’s policy priorities.

NAWG’s Committees met to discuss several priority issues such as the 2018 Farm Bill and trade. Specifically, the Domestic and Trade Policy Committee focused on Crop Insurance, Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, base acres, and Market Access Program (MAP)/Foreign Market Development (FMD). The Environmental and Renewable Resources Committee discussed conservation and the next Farm Bill and heard from guest speakers Kim Magin, Monsanto, Jim McCarthy, North American Millers Association, and Rob MacKie, American Bakers Association. The Research and Technology Committee discussed the Farm Bill and the language around “quality” for the Research Title. The Joint International Trade Policy Committee discussed the current state of NAFTA, KORUS, MAP, and FMD. Lastly, the Wheat Breeding Innovation Committee discussed how USDA plans on issuing its proposed federal GMO labeling rule in the fall of 2017. Refreshments were sponsored by Bayer in the wheat lounge and during breaks.

I am extremely thankful that I could be a part of the conference and work with such a great staff. I was able to get a first hand look into the workings of a conference and saw the immense amount of preparation and teamwork it took to execute a succssful meeting. While I will not be here, the 2018 Winter NAWG/USW Conference is schedule for February 6-11, 2018 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. For more information visit NAWG’s site.