READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, December 20th 

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

House Passes U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementing Legislation

Agriculture groups are calling on the Senate to “finish the job” and pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement following approval in the House of Representatives Thursday. The U.S. House overwhelmingly passed implementing legislation for USMCA, sending the trade agreement to the Senate. The vote came following a delay of more than a year to make changes and reach an agreement between House Democrats and the Trump administration. Representative Richard Neal, who led the House efforts to modify the agreement, says the transformed trade deal approved Thursday “closes important loopholes and enables the United States to ensure our trading partners live up to their commitments.” Senate leader Mitch McConnell last week stated the Senate would not consider approving the agreement until after the Senate completes an impeachment trial in January. Members of the National Corn Growers Association were in Washington this week, urging the Senate to quickly consider and pass the trade agreement in the new year.

House, Senate, Pass Ag Spending Package

The House and Senate this week came together in passage of spending bills for fiscal year 2020. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, says, “bipartisan cooperation has made this possible.” The spending package for agriculture includes $23.5 billion in discretionary funding, $451 million above fiscal year 2019 enacted levels. It also includes $1.5 billion in disaster funding for farmers and ranchers that was set to expire at the end of this year. Additionally, the bill includes $550 million for the rural broadband ReConnect Pilot program, along with fulling funding the Farmer and Rancher Stress Assistance Network, and reinstating the expired biodiesel tax credit retroactively through 2022. As farm groups welcomed the spending package, the National Milk Producers Federation applauded the legislation for including direction on dairy imitating products using labels containing dairy terms. The Food and Drug Administration provisions include language reaffirming bipartisan congressional concern with mislabeled imitation dairy products, directing FDA to enforce its own rules on labeling.

EPA Maintains SRE Supplemental Rule as Proposed

The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday finalized renewable volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2020. Through the action, EPA says it has “fulfilled yet another key promise” to farmers, however, corn and biofuel producers disagree. The EPA did not make changes to the proposal, as requested by the biofuels industry. The final rule will use a three-year rolling average of recommended small refinery exemptions by the Department of Energy to account for waived gallons. Farm groups told the EPA during the comment period to account for the actual number of waived gallons, rather than the DOE recommendations. The EPA says conventional biofuel volumes, primarily met by corn ethanol, will be maintained at the 15 billion gallon target set by Congress for 2020. Cellulosic biofuel volumes for 2020, and thus advanced biofuel volumes, will increase by almost 170 million gallons over the 2019 standard. Biomass-based diesel volumes for 2021 will be equivalent to the standard for 2020, and total RVO gallons for 2020 is 20.09 billion gallons.

Corn, Biofuels Groups, Disappointed in EPA Decision

Corn and biofuels groups expressed disappointment in the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to finalize a rule relating to small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard. The final rule uses a three-year average of the Department of Energy recommended waivers as an estimate for 2020 waivers rather than an average of actual gallons waived by the EPA, as requested by biofuel supporters. The National Farmers Union says President Donald Trump broke a promise to farmers. The Trump administration in October promised to fully account for waived volumes due to small refinery waivers. NFU’s Rob Larew says, “farmers are sick and tired of this biofuels bait and switch.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says more action is needed on the proposal to restore growth under the RFS, adding “this rule leaves important work unfinished.” National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross says the final rule “falls short of adequately addressing the demand destruction caused by EPA’s abuse of RFS refinery waivers.”

EPA Approves Hemp Pesticides, Proposes Atrazine Reregistration

The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday approved ten pesticides for use on hemp crops for use during the 2020 growing season. The much-needed action allows hemp growers to protect their crops with approved products.  Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says the action “is a step in the right direction” for hemp growers, adding “it is important our growers have new technologies and tools to better help protect their crops and increase their yields.” While EPA oversees pesticide registrations for hemp, other federal agencies are working to streamline their separate regulatory implementation processes for the newly legalized crop. The agency also advanced the reregistration of atrazine, a widely used product for weed control. Missouri Corn Growers Association CEO and Triazine Network Chair Gary Marshall says, “We appreciate” the proposal, adding atrazine is “tremendously important to farmers across the country.” The agency is proposing a reduction to the maximum application rate for atrazine used on residential turf, and other updates to the label requirements, including mandatory spray drift control measures.

USDA, USTR, Seek Trade Advisory Committee Applications

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the United States Trade Representative are accepting applications for new members to serve on seven agricultural trade advisory committees. Members of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee advise USDA and USTR on operating existing U.S. trade agreements, on negotiating new agreements, and on other trade policy matters. Members of six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees provide technical advice and guidance on international trade issues that affect both domestic and foreign production in specific commodity sectors. The committees focus on trade for Animals and animal products, Fruits and vegetables, grains, processed foods and sweeteners, along with a committee on tobacco, cotton and peanuts. To be considered for candidacy, applicants must have significant expertise in both agriculture and international trade matters. The committees hold frequent conference calls and generally meet in Washington, D.C., twice a year. Committee members serve four-year terms. Application instructions are available at Applications must be received by 5 p.m. ET on January 31, 2020.

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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