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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, March 13th

EPA Releases Year-round E15 Rule

The Trump Administration Tuesday released its proposal to allow for year-round E15 sales. The proposal would remove a barrier that limited the year-round sales, while also making changes to credits refiners use to prove they are using biofuel. In a news release, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated, “EPA is working to propose and finalize these changes by the summer driving season,” which starts June first and is also the date when E15 sales are restricted. The proposal would provide a Reid Vapor Pressure waiver for the summer months that has historically been applied only to E10. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor called the rule a “critical milestone.” However, proposed changes to the RIN market are questioned by the industry. While many are still reviewing the proposal, Skor says Growth Energy wants to make sure that changes “do not upend the marketplace, and continue to encourage investment in E15 and other higher ethanol blends.” Before finalizing the rule, EPA will now accept comments from biofuel producers, farmers, and other stakeholders.

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NASDA Disappointed with Trump Budget Proposal

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture expressed disappointment this week in the content of President Trump’s budget proposal. NASDA CEO Barbara Glenn says the budget request would “negatively impact agriculture, particularly at a time when many in agriculture are facing a serious economic downturn.” NASDA expects Congress to ensure the programs agriculture needs, including those within the Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency are adequately funded. The budget includes cuts to crop insurance and other programs. However, one positive thread throughout the budget, according to NASDA, was the theme of cooperative federalism, particularly in the realm of food safety. The proposal called for a $16 million increase in funding to advance implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act with a specific focus on cooperative agreements. NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories.

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Secretary Perdue Announces Smaller List for ERS and NIFA Relocation Spots

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday published a narrowed list of potential site relocations for the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. USDA says the agency used a set of guiding principles against the interested locations, including consideration of USDA travel requirements, labor force statistics, and work hours most compatible with all USDA office schedules. The new list includes 67 potential sites across the nation from the 136 proposed locations. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says “USDA will make the best choice for our employees and customers,” adding “relocation will help ensure that USDA is the most effective, most efficient, and most customer-focused agency in the federal government.” The initial list includes locations in 35 states, however, the smaller list announced this week includes sites from just 28 states. Find the complete list at USDA.gov.

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U.S. Pork Exports Remain Steady in 2018 Despite Challenges

Despite numerous challenges for most of 2018, sales of U.S. pork abroad remained relatively steady compared with 2017. For the year, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports totaled 5.37 billion pounds, unchanged from 2017, and were valued at $6.3 billion, which was down one percent from 2017.  Bill Luckey of the National Pork Board called 2018 a “difficult year,” noting market-access was the biggest challenge. Pork exports accounted for 25.7 percent of total 2018 U.S. pork and pork variety meat production. Export value per head averaged $51.37, down 3.9 percent from 2017. Despite market access challenges for many markets, 2018 export growth was strong in a few countries, including tremendous growth in South Korea and Colombia. Pork and pork variety meat exports to Korea were up 40 percent in volume and 41 percent in value, while exports to Colombia were up 39 percent in volume and 32 percent in value. During 2018, more than 100 countries imported U.S. pork.

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NBB Urges Lawmakers to Quickly Extend the Biodiesel Tax Incentive

The National Biodiesel Board Tuesday urged the House Ways and Means Committee to quickly extend the biodiesel tax incentive. Kurt Kovarik (coh-VAR-ick), Vice President of Federal Affairs for the National Biodiesel Board, submitted testimony to the Temporary Policy in the Internal Revenue Code hearing. The NBB official told lawmakers the biodiesel industry urgently needs an immediate extension of the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive to end the current climate of policy uncertainty. In the testimony, Kovarik writes, “The biodiesel and renewable diesel industry cannot reach its full potential with on-again, off-again tax policy.” Specifically, the Biodiesel Board is asking lawmakers to immediately extend the biodiesel tax incentive for 2018 and 2019, at least, “to end the current climate of uncertainty surrounding the industry.”

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NRCS Seeks Comments on Conservation Practice Standards

The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is seeking input on conservation practices through the 2018 Farm Bill. As USDA works on implementing the farm bill, NRCS is asking the public to submit comments on how to improve conservation practices standards that support programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program, which help producers cover part of the costs for implementing these practices. NRCS offers 150-plus conservation practices to America’s farmers and ranchers to help them meet their business and natural resource needs on their working lands. The standards provide guidelines for planning, designing, installing, operating and maintaining conservation practices. NRCS is using the comment period to evaluate opportunities to increase flexibility to producers, finding the optimal balance between meeting site-specific conservation needs and minimizing risks of design failure, and ensure the relevance of the standards to agriculture.  The comment period ends April 25, 2019. Comments can be made online by searching regulations.gov.

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.