READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, August 6thh

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Energy Department Recommends Granting Partial Retroactive Waivers

The U.S. Department of Energy has made its recommendations to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding retroactive blending waiver requests. Two sources say the DOE recommended to the EPA that “a number” of those requests be partially granted. However, those anonymous sources couldn’t provide further details. The EPA is in charge of granting those exemptions, but the Department of Energy has to review the applications first and then make its recommendations. An Agriculture Dot Com article says the move could help bring those smaller refiners into compliance with a court ruling earlier this year that requires waivers granted since 2010 to take the form of an extension. Most waiver recipients in recent years haven’t continuously been granted those waivers. At present, there are 58 pending waiver requests from refiners for the years 2011-2018. “EPA has received initial feedback from the Department of Energy on certain petitions for small refinery exemptions for the past compliance years under the Renewable Fuel Standards Program,” says EPA spokesperson Molly Block. “Our staff is reviewing it.” The Department of Energy didn’t respond to requests for comments. Biofuel advocates say the blending waivers hurt the overall demand for corn-based ethanol.

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China, U.S. Will Review Trade Deal, Air Grievances on August 15th

U.S. and Chinese officials will review the Phase One trade deal implementation and likely air grievances that both sides have on August 15th during a video conference. Two people familiar with the plans told Reuters that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the principal negotiators of the deal, will participate in the meeting, which will be a six-month review of the deal that became active on February 15th. The Wall Street Journal initially reported the details of the meeting between the two countries. Under the deal, China pledged to boost purchases of U.S. goods by $200 billion over 2017 levels. Those purchases were to include agricultural and manufactured products, along with energy and other services. But China has been hit hard by the coronavirus recession and fallen far behind the pace it needs to meet the first-year goal of a $77 billion increase. Imports of farm goods have also been lower than the 2017 level the agreement was based on. China’s ambassador to the U.S. says they always had a plan in place for high-level talks six months into the pact. U.S. President Donald Trump had threatened to end the deal over China’s handling of the coronavirus. Tensions have risen over U.S. sanctions related to China’s crackdown on Hong Kong.

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Farm Bankruptcy News Mixed During COVID-19

Farm bankruptcy filings totaled 580 between June of 2019 and June of 2020, an eight percent increase over those 12 months. The American Farm Bureau says a six-month comparison shows the number of new Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings slowed during that time. The Midwest, Northwest, and the Southeast are the regions hardest hit by bankruptcies, accounting for 80 percent of the total U.S. filings. Wisconsin was the number one state with 69 filings, followed by 38 in Nebraska. Georgia and Minnesota each had 36 filings. While the year-over-year filings increased during June, the number of new filings slowed during the first six months of this year compared to the first half of 2019. From January to June of 2020, there were 284 new Chapter 12 bankruptcy cases, 10 fewer than the same time last year. The reduction in filings coincides with the aid distributed through the CARES Act that compensated farmers and ranchers for losses incurred over the first six months of the year. “The fact that we saw bankruptcy filings slow during the first half of this year shows how important the economic stimulus efforts have been to keeping farmers above water,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “But the economic impact of the pandemic is far from over.”

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Democrat Bill Would Ban Pesticides to Protect Farm Workers

Legislation introduced by two Democratic lawmakers would ban chlorpyrifos (Klor-PEER-ih-fohs) and other pesticides that cause concern among farmworker groups due to negative health effects. The bill from Tom Udall of New Mexico and Joe Neguse (Neh-GOOS) of Colorado would ban organophosphates. An article on The Hill Dot Com website says that’s a group of pesticides that attack the nervous system and that research has shown has damaging effects on farmworkers. It includes chlorpyrifos, which the Environmental Protection Agency has been under pressure to ban, thanks to a series of lawsuits. The legislation also would ban neonicotinoids (Neo-ni-kuh-ti-noids), which have damaging effects on vulnerable bee populations. “The farmworkers who feed our country face dangerous chemical exposure without recourse to protect their health, and surrounding communities bear the frontline costs of pesticide runoff in their land, water, and air,” says Udall. The EPA under the Trump Administration has repeatedly issued emergency exemptions allowing farmers to continue using pesticides that are otherwise restricted. The bill would bring that to an end, as well as allow local communities to block some pesticides without being preempted by state law. It also places more requirements on farms and chemical companies.

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USDA Extends Deadline, Defers Interest Accrual Due to COVID-19

The USDA’s Risk Management Agency says it will authorize Approved Insurance Providers to extend premium deadlines for fee payments, defer the resulting interest accrual, and give them other flexibilities. The goal is to help farmers, ranchers, and insurance providers who are affected by COVID-19. “USDA recognizes farmers and ranchers have been severely affected by COVID-19 this year and to help ease the burden on these folks, we’re continuing to extend flexibility for producers,” says Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. “These flexibilities will support health and safety while also ensuring the federal crop insurance program continues to serve as a vital risk management tool.” AIPs can provide their policyholders with additional time to pay the premium and administrative fees and waive the accrual of interest to the earlier of 60 days after their scheduled payment due date or the termination date on policies with premium billing dates between August 1 and September 30, 2020. USDA is also authorizing insurance companies to provide up to an additional 60 days for policyholders to make payment and waive additional interest for Written Payment Agreements due between August 1 and September 30, 2020.

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ASA Returns to its Roots for 100th Anniversary

The American Soybean Association returned to its birthplace to celebrate its 100th year of existence. The group celebrated a century of coordinated efforts and ensuring successes on behalf of U.S. growers. With support from the Indiana Soybean Alliance and the family who helped to launch one of the nation’s strongest agricultural advocacy offices, ASA celebrated its 100th anniversary on the Indiana farm where it all started. The celebration included a small but significant historical marker dedication and tours of heirloom soybean plots. ASA first formed when the three Fouts brothers hosted their first Corn Belt Soybean Field Day at their “Soyland Farms” operation in Camden, Indiana, on September 3rd of 1920. That event drew nearly 1,000 farmers and their families from six states, all of whom were interested in learning more about an emerging new commodity called soybeans. The National Soybean Growers’ Association, later renamed the American Soybean Association, was formed that very day. The outdoor dedication ceremony was streamed live across the country for soy supporters to celebrate safely around the nation.

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.