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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, February 14th

China to Meet with Lighthizer Friday

China’s President will meet with U.S. trade leaders Friday as the U.S. and China seek a trade deal before an early March deadline. The South China Morning Post reports China’s President Xi Jinping (zshe-gin-ping) is scheduled to meet with a U.S. trade delegation in Beijing, which includes U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. China and the U.S. face an early March deadline set by the Trump administration to reach an agreement that could end the tit-for-tat trade war between the two nations. However, President Trump said this week he is open to extending the deadline, saying he could let the deadline “slide for a little while.” Trump is expected to meet with China’s President sometime in March in what some say could be a move to close an agreement between China and the United States. The trade war served a blow to U.S. agriculture as China slapped retaliatory tariffs on U.S. farm commodities, most notably, soybeans and pork.

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EPA Releases Draft Greenhouse Gas Report

The Environmental Protection Agency this week released a draft report on greenhouse gasses. The report says U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell .3 percent in 2017 from 2016, but estimates that methane emissions grew 1.5 percent. Politico reports the methane emission increase in 2017 was largely due to more emissions from cows and other livestock. In all, the data shows the 2017 estimation represents the highest methane emissions since 2014. Earlier this week, Bill Gates, who funds climate change efforts through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wrote of the methane livestock issue, stating cattle “give off methane when they belch and pass gas.” He offered no solution, but rather language to focus on solutions to curb methane emissions. Meanwhile, the comment period on the EPA draft report is open until March 14th. Comments may be submitted online through the Federal Register.

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EPA to Release Single Draft E15 Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency will release a single draft rule to expand E15 sales, and make RIN market reforms. The announcement follows consideration that the rule would be split to allow the EPA to focus on finishing the E15 rule before the summer driving season. However, an EPA official told Reuters, “the President had instructed us to keep it together.” The rule was expected to be released in draft form in February, but the government shutdown has delayed the rulemaking process. The EPA is still expecting to complete the rule, according to agency officials, by the June first start of the summer driving season. If the agency fails to complete the rule on time, E15 sales would not be allowed in many markets due to current regulations. However, while the timeline is slim, the EPA official says the agency was moving at a “very expeditious” pace on the E15 rule. The agency has yet to announce a date for when the draft rule will be released.

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AFBF’s Duvall Calls for Guest Worker Program in Editorial

The President of the American Farm Bureau Federation is calling on Congress to create a guest worker program for agriculture. In an editorial in the L.A. Times, Zippy Duvall states the U.S. has a farm labor shortage. AFBF welcomed legislation recently introduced by California Democrat, U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren, who is the chair of the House Immigration Subcommittee. Duvall says the Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2019, if passed, would provide a pathway to legalization for agricultural workers who are already here. But more is needed, according to Duvall, who says U.S. agriculture needs a guest worker program that “will help us replace the workers covered by the Lofgren bill as they age out or move to other sectors of the economy.” Duvall says the U.S. needs a guest worker program that is flexible for farmers and ranchers, and that it should grant flexibility for growers who cannot construct housing, by allowing them to use a housing voucher for workers.

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Cattlemen React to Senate Passage of Public Lands Package

The Natural Resources Management Act passed by the U.S. Senate this week offers a mixed big for rural America, according to the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Federal Lands, Executive Director Ethan lane. Between the creation of a public database for recipients of Equal Access to Justice funds, critical wilderness boundary adjustments, and the resolution of long-standing land and ownership disputes, the bill advances several public policy priorities for U.S. ranchers. However, Lane says the bill “also includes several provisions that are sure to leave rural communities scratching their heads.” The biggest question mark surrounds the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which the Senate voted to permanently reauthorize with only minor progress toward providing states with their “fair share” of funding. In the absence of Congressional oversight, Lane says the program “looks set to become a slush fund used to prioritize recreation over other multiples uses of federal land.”

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Ethanol Industry Makes  Significant Contribution to U.S. Economy

An economic analysis of the ethanol industry found significant contributions to the U.S. Economy. Announced by the Renewable Fuels Association during its annual National Ethanol Conference, the organization says the study shows that despite regulatory and marketplace challenges in 2018, the industry made a “remarkable contribution” to the U.S. economy. The analysis found that the industry supported nearly 366,000 jobs and generated nearly $46 billion in gross domestic product in 2018. According to the analysis, the production and use of 16.1 billion gallons of ethanol in 2018 generated an estimated $4.8 billion in tax revenue to the Federal Treasury and $4 billion in revenue to state and local governments. The analysis also estimated the impact of the ethanol industry on the state economy in top ethanol-producing states. Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois were the top three states in terms of economic impacts, but states like Ohio, Kansas, Michigan, Texas, Missouri, California, and New York also benefited from ethanol plants’ contributions.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.