READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, September 28th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

House Passes a Clean Energy Bill

The House of Representatives passed a broad bill that intends to help the U.S. boost energy efficiency and renewable energy sources in an effort to combat climate change. The Hill says the chamber passed the 900-page Clean Energy and Jobs Innovation Act by a 220-185 vote. The legislation intends to create research and development programs for different forms of energy, including solar, wind, advanced geothermal energy, and hydroelectric power, as well as new ways to lower pollution from fossil fuel production. The bill also establishes more rigorous building codes and bolsters energy efficiency requirements and weatherization programs. A similar energy innovation bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this year but seemed to stall until recently. The Senate bill is moving again after lawmakers agreed on an amendment seeking to phase down the use of a type of greenhouse gas. A senior House Democratic aide tells The Hill that if the Senate can pass its own bill, the chambers can go to conference to settle any disagreements. While Democrats support the bill, Republicans point out that it will cost over $135 billion. Three House GOP members says the bill is “full of government mandates that will make Americans pay more money for everything from the vehicles they drive to heating and cooling their homes.”

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Biofuel Groups Applaud House Passage of RFS Integrity Act

Growth Energy is happy about the inclusion of the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act contained in the clean energy legislation that passed the House last Thursday. The act was authored by House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson, along with representatives from other ag states like South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas. It is designed to bring much-needed transparency to the Environmental Protection Agency’s secretive small refinery exemption process and ensure refiners meet biofuel blending requirements. “After years of EPA mismanagement, the legislation will finally give farmers and biofuel producers a long-overdue peek at EPA’s secretive and destructive process,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. The National Biodiesel Board is also pleased that the act is included in the House clean energy bill. The provision would set a June 1 deadline for annual small refinery exemption petitions, ensuring they’ll be accounted for in the RFS calculations. Also, the bill would require public disclosure of the volumes of biofuels potentially impacted by the petition, along with the name of the petitioner. Kurt Kovarik, NBB VP of Federal Affairs, says, “This is a commonsense step to ensure that RFS biomass-based diesel volumes are fully met and prevent a recurrence of the demand destruction for biodiesel that we’ve seen for the last seven years.”

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AGs Against Eliminating Swine Slaughter Line Speeds

Seven attorneys general and two agriculture groups get to file briefs in a lawsuit challenging a USDA rule that eliminated line-speed limits at swine slaughter plants. A DTN report says on October 1 of last year, the Food Safety Inspection Service finalized the rule that cut the number of federal inspectors by 40 percent at swine plants while also eliminating limits on line speeds. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union filed a lawsuit six days later, asking the U.S. District Court in Minnesota to set aside the rule. The union says USDA didn’t take into consideration how it would affect safety issues and risks for line workers. The seven AGs will file a brief in support of a motion for summary judgement filed by the workers union. Additionally, the National Pork Producers Council and the North American Meat Institute will file a brief in support of the USDA motion for summary judgement. The plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit that “USDA’s failure to consider overwhelming recorded evidence that indicates faster line speeds subject workers to substantially increased risk of injury was arbitrary and capricious.” The workers union also says USDA didn’t provide an adequate reason for the decision to reduce the number of federal inspectors by 40 percent at each site.

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Ag Groups Want U.S. to Remain in WTO

A coalition of 62 leading U.S. agriculture stakeholders are asking for continued U.S. membership in the World Trade Organization. A Corn Refiners Association release says the groups sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, as well as leaders of the Senate Finance, House Ways and Means, and the House and Senate Ag Committees calling for effective WTO reform. That reform would enhance the ability of American agriculture to access foreign markets and maintain transparency and accountability critical to future export growth that will help to support American jobs. The letter also identifies characteristics they’re looking for in the next WTO Director General. “The WTO is fundamental to a rules-based system of international trade,” says John Bode, President and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association. “As long as exports are important to U.S. agriculture, WTO membership will be essential. This is critical to the one-fifth of the U.S. economy that is related to agriculture.” The letter does note the need for the WTO to institute updated rules in order to keep pace with global economic changes and calls for increased accountability among members. A transition in leadership “presents a great opportunity to successfully implement reform and reinvigorate its negotiating function under a new Director General.”

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China Officials Downplay Fears of Grain Shortages

Beijing wants the rest of the world to know that the most-populated country in the world is not looking at a grain shortage. China’s Ag Minister is blaming speculators for rapidly rising corn prices which are stoking fears about a possible shortage in the Asian nation. Corn prices in China recently hit an eight-year high following events like typhoons and flooding that damaged the nation’s Corn Belt. The South China Morning Post says it saw firsthand that large areas of cropland were flattened. As a result, local farmers are concerned about a steep drop in what they can produce. Chinese corn imports, used mainly in animal feed, hit the highest level in almost 30 years during the first eight months of 2020, increasing anxiety about a possible domestic supply gap. However, the nation’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs says the surging prices were caused by “market speculation and irrational hoarding.” He says the country has ample supplies of corn and is set to harvest another bumper crop in the autumn, despite the impact of natural disasters in two provinces that account for 25 percent of China’s corn production. “New corn will enter the market soon and the supply will further increase,” he says. “Corn prices are already starting to stabilize.”

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Next Generation Fuels Act Introduced in House

Higher-octane fuels like mid-and-high-level ethanol blends are mutually beneficial for drivers, farmers, and the environment. Because of that, Representative Cheri Bustos (BOOS-tohs) introduced the Next Generation Fuels Act, which would increase gasoline octane to a minimum standard of 98 Research Octane Number (RON) through low-carbon renewable fuels. The National Farmers Union, a long-time supporter of higher blends of ethanol, is pleased with the bill’s introduction. “There are so many reasons to widely adopt low-carbon, high octane ethanol blends,” says President Rob Larew. “They significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” He also says the new standards would create new markets for family farmers, supporters of rural economic growth, and offer a cost-effective fuel for American drivers. Growth Energy is also pleased with the introduction, saying it will unleash higher-octane, lower-carbon fuels that offer drivers better mileage and fewer emissions. “There has never been a more urgent need to adopt higher-octane, low carbon ethanol blends into America’s fuel supply, as they are key to achieving clean, healthy air,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor.

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.