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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, May 3rd

EPA Considering Compromise Plan on Ethanol Waivers

Two industry sources have told Politico that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler is looking at a compromise plan when it comes to ethanol waivers. Wheeler is considering a plan that would offer small refineries partial relief from blending requirements set forth in the Renewable Fuels Standard. Politico says the move could be a potential compromise between the ethanol and oil industries, two of President Trump’s core support groups. 36 refineries have sent in requests for exemptions from their 2018 blending requirements. Corn and ethanol groups say the waivers continue to undermine the ethanol standard and reduce demand for the biofuel. A Reuters report from Wednesday says the EPA has suspended a plan that would publish the names of each refinery that gets a biofuel blending exemption. Both the White House and the oil industry came out in opposition to making the names public. A group of Republican senators asked Wheeler to account for the ethanol blend wall and reset statutory targets so that the contributions of conventional biofuel is below an implied 10 percent level for 2020, or 14.2 billion gallons. The Renewable Fuels Association says the EPA should instead utilize its reset authority to reallocate lost volumes from its excessive use of small refinery waivers.


Trump Tariffs Must Go Before USMCA Vote in Congress

As agriculture lobbies Congress to introduce and pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, there could be a battle brewing over the ending of U.S. trade tariffs. Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says there is no way Congress will consider the new North American trade deal until President Trump lifts the tariffs that have caused other countries to implement retaliatory tariffs that have hit U.S. farmers hard. Grassley told reporters this week that Trump has to end the steel and aluminum tariffs in place on our North American trading partners before Congress will take up the USMCA Agreement. Farmers across the country have been suffering economically because of the reciprocal tariffs in place on all kinds of agricultural products. Grassley says tariffs could also make it more difficult to get a trade deal done with China. Grassley was expecting to meet Thursday face-to-face with Trump at the White House to talk trade. The long-time Senator says tariffs are “keeping the president on the cusp of a big win” with Canada and Mexico, especially as he’s days or weeks away from potentially establishing a trade agreement with China. An Associated Press report says the President is hesitant to remove the tariffs because he feels they’ve forced other countries to make deals more favorable to the U.S.


Second Hours-of-Service Bill Introduced in Congress

The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act was introduced in the Senate earlier this week. Now, House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson and Greg Pence of Indiana introduced H.R. Bill 2460, the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act. The legislation is a companion to a Senate Bill introduced last February and already drawing bipartisan supporters. It would require the Secretary of Transportation to establish a working group to study regulatory and legislative improvements for the livestock and agricultural commodities transport industries. The working group would then be charged with presenting a report to the Secretary of Agriculture that would identify the “initiatives and regulatory changes that maintain and protect the safety of highways and allow for the safe, efficient, and productive marketplace transport of livestock, and agricultural commodities.” Steve Hilker, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Transportation Committee Chair, says they appreciate Congress working to come up with solutions to allow for the safe and efficient movement of cattle throughout the country. “New regulations imposed in 2017 don’t work for the livestock transportation industry,” Hilker says. “We’ve been working with members of Congress and the Administration to find regulations that enhance highway safely, while also allowing haulers to deliver their live cargo as humanely as possible.”


American Feed Industry Association Announces New CEO

The American Feed Industry Association has selected Constance Cullman, the current President of Farm Foundation, as its next president and CEO. She also becomes the president of the industry’s public charity, which is the Institute for Feed Education and Research. Cullman officially joins the AFIA on July 29. AFIA Board of Directors Chair Bruce Crutcher says their selection committee interviewed a diverse range of candidates. “We were looking for someone who’s a visionary leader with strong communication skills and has proven they could bring together teams across the organization and industry to lead on priority issues,” Crutcher says. “Constance Cullman not only has a high track record of success, but she also has the vision, integrity, and the passion necessary for leading the U.S. animal food industry into its next chapter.” Cullman has been the president and CEO of Farm Foundation for the past three years. Joe Swedberg, Chair of the Farm Foundation Board of Directors, says, “Over the past three years with Constance leading the team, Farm Foundation has strengthened its role as a convener of all voices in the food and agriculture sector and as a source of objective analysis.” Swedberg says under Cullman’s leadership, the Foundation’s work has tackled challenging issues like innovation, infrastructure, antimicrobial use, broadband access, and the Farm Foundation Food and Agricultural Trade Resource Center.


Hemp Farming Applications Continue to Grow

West Virginia and Illinois farmers are submitting an increasing number of applications to grow industrial hemp this year. The West Virginia Agriculture Department says the number of licenses issued to farmers grew from 46 last year to 158 this year. The agency also said the number of acres dedicated to hemp farming will grow this year as well. It’s a big jump as farmers planted 155 acres of hemp last year and plan to put in 1,532 acres this year. West Virginia Ag Commissioner Kent Leonhardt says farmers are excited to have a new crop to plant. Illinois farmers also have a growing desire to plant industrial hemp this year. The Chicago Tribune says farmers have swamped Illinois regulators with requests to grow the crop and they did so as soon as the application process began. Since Tuesday of this week, nearly 300 farmers have asked to grow industrial hemp. Another 74 applications to process the crop have already come in. The Illinois Department of Agriculture has already approved 100 of those applications to grow the crop and another 29 licenses to process it. Officials say their goal is to approve more licenses in time for spring planting.


Wheat Growers D.C. Fly-In Prioritizes 2018 Farm Bill Implementation

National Association of Wheat Growers’ officers led their annual Washington D.C. fly-in to meet with Congressional members and their staffs to discuss their chief agricultural concerns. The main topics of discussion included trade, the 2018 Farm Bill implementation, and many other topics. The Washington State Association of Wheat Growers and the Oregon Wheat Growers’ League also attended the fly-in. “Implementing the 2018 Farm Bill programs and trade continue to be the main topics of interest for the fiscal year,” says Wheat Growers’ Association President Ben Scholz. “We view the fly-ins as a great opportunity for policymakers to hear firsthand accounts of how these programs impact wheat farmers, as well as hear why we are advocating for new trade deals.” During their meetings with lawmakers, they stressed how vital it is that wheat growers have access to a strong crop insurance program. They asked members of Congress to protect the program from possible cuts during the appropriations process. “Wheat Grower’s officers talked a lot about trade, especially focusing in on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” says Scholz. “NAWG supports a yes vote from Congress on the USMCA because it will create jobs, be a boost to the rural economy, and is a big win for agriculture.” He also says the nation’s wheat growers are excited to see the administration building on the momentum of USMCA by beginning serious trade negotiations with Japan.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service


By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker 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.

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