READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, September 18th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Oil Refinery Help Could Come From USDA

The Trump Administration is considering the possibility of at least $300 million in cash aid for U.S. oil refiners, who’ve been denied exemptions under the Renewable Fuels Standard. Two sources told Reuters that while the administration hasn’t yet ruled on 2019 waiver requests, officials have estimated the amount of money it would provide in aid based on the number of facilities that applied for the exemptions but might now be ineligible because of a recent court ruling. The Environmental Protection Agency, which has the final say on RFS waivers, didn’t immediately comment on the announcement. Several sources say that financial relief could come from funds within the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation but didn’t know exactly when the aid would be distributed. A spokesman for the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers’ Association says the industry doesn’t support the idea of aid. “If the administration truly wants to make things right with refiners, they need to prioritize making the RFS less expensive so it’s not a threat to good manufacturing jobs,” the spokesman adds. The administration had recently quadrupled exemptions for refiners, angering biofuel producers and farmers who say the waivers dent demand for their products.

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NCBA Pleased with Attempts to Modernize Endangered Species Act

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council are pleased with the introduction of legislation attempting to modernize the Endangered Species Act. It’s the first attempt to update the act in almost 30 years. Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, Chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, introduced the legislation. He says the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2020 will improve the existing law by strengthening state and local partnerships, as well as incentivize voluntary conservation efforts undertaken by ranchers and other landowners. It will also defend the ESA’s delisting process for animals that have successfully recovered and no longer need protection. Through these changes and with targeted increases for specific areas of the ESA, the bill will improve species conservation and address key failures in the Act. “The legislation is about improving an outdated law so that it meets current needs,” says NCBA President Marty Smith. “It’s about helping every American cattle producer that has lost a calf to a federally-protected bear or wolf, and for landowners who face stringent regulation that doesn’t meet the habitat needs on the ground.”

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Iowa Senators Want Investigation into Post-Derecho Price Gouging

Senate Finance Chair Chuck Grassley and fellow Iowa Senator Joni Ernst are asking the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate price gouging in the state. The Hagstrom Report says the senators accuse some companies of overcharging for the equipment and materials Iowans for them to make repairs after the derecho storm system. Grassley and Ernst co-authored letters to both agencies that say, “We have heard concerns about possible price gouging of necessary goods and services, as well as scams targeting victims of the derecho.” They say Iowans, especially farmers, have told them they face prohibitive costs in acquiring the materials and equipment they need to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. “The costs for farmers to remove, repair, or replace grain bins alone will total hundreds of millions of dollars,” the letter says. “We will not let scammers and price gougers use this tragedy to raise prices to sky-high levels and thwart Iowa’s population from repairing and rebuilding their homes, businesses, and communities.” Grassley and Ernst tell both agencies that it’s imperative that they investigate allegations of wrongdoing, fraud, and price gouging related to the Iowa derecho, and aggressively pursue the individuals who engage in these illegal activities.

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NCBA Lists Available Disaster Relief Help for Cattle Producers

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association put together a list of federal programs that are available to help cattle producers across the country who are being impacted by wildfires and hurricanes. The association also put together a list of ways those who aren’t affected by the challenges can help those producers directly hit by natural disasters. “The wildfire and hurricanes that have plagued the country these last few weeks are significant disasters that are hurting cattle producers in multiple ways,” says NCBA CEO Colin Woodall. “From flooded operations, burning rangeland, smoke inhalation, and many more challenges, this is a trying time for producers. Everyone needs to take a close look at the resources available to help give relief to producers, their families, and their animals.” Woodall adds that their biggest concern is for the well-being of everyone in the path of these disasters. “Know your evacuation routes and exercise extreme caution when dealing with these deadly forces of nature.” Ranchers and farmers are urged to utilize the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) if it applies to them. NCBA has set up a web page that aggregates all disaster relief information in one place, which also includes donation information for those who wish to help.

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Roberts Says Farm Bill Future Depends on CCC

Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts took part in a discussion on the Senate floor this week about the replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corporation. The Kansas Republican points out that failure to do so would not only hurt already-struggling farmers, ranchers, and growers, it would jeopardize the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill programs. Senators from North and South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Mississippi took part in the discussion. “The 2018 Farm Bill provides essential programs to producers that allow them to mitigate some of the risks that are outside of their control,” Roberts says. “Many of the programs are implemented through the authority and the annual funding Congress provided to the CCC.” Roberts stresses to his colleagues that now is not the time for political gamesmanship. “If Congress doesn’t replenish the CCC, it could significantly harm or even halt these important programs,” Roberts adds. “Farmers, ranchers, and others in farm country are counting on us to do our job.” The senator added that even during COVID-19, U.S. farmers and ranchers continue to hold up their end of the bargain by producing crops for the world’s safest and most affordable food supply.

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Vegan Food Company Sues Oklahoma Over Product Label Law

Oklahoma has a new law governing labeling for some vegan products. A vegan company doesn’t like that and has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of western Oklahoma. The suit was filed by Upton’s Naturals Company, an Illinois-based business that sells plant-based foods, and the Plant-Based Foods Association, a group with 170 members. The Tulsa World says the suit seeks a preliminary injunction preventing House Bill 3806 from taking effect, a permanent injunction, as well as attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses. The suit specifically alleges that Oklahoma lawmakers passed the measure to protect the state’s meat-industry groups from the competition brought by plant-based food makers. The law was supported by the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association. It does permit companies to use words like meat, beef, and bacon on their labels. However, they also need to include a disclaimer that the products were derived from plant-based sources “in type that’s the same size and prominence to the name of the product.” Plaintiffs say prohibiting the use of meat-based terms without the disclaimer creates confusion among consumers, and that the law would “fail any level of First Amendment scrutiny.”

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.