READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, December 10th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Biden Chooses Vilsack as Nominee for Ag Secretary

Several media reports late Tuesday said Joe Biden will nominate Tom Vilsack to once again be the Secretary of Agriculture, a post he held for eight years during the Obama Administration. He was also a top rural and ag policy adviser during Biden’s presidential campaign. One person familiar with Biden tells Politico that Vilsack’s previous experience running USDA was a key to the decision. Biden wants someone who can immediately tackle the hunger and farm challenges that are being made worse by COVID-19. During his term at USDA, Vilsack focused on many priorities outside the department’s primary mission of focusing on farmers. Under Vilsack, the agency took a deeper dive into other areas like rural development and nutrition programs. The USDA will play a major role in Biden’s response to climate change, which likely made the job more attractive for Vilsack to return. After years of resistance against climate change discussions, Politico says farm groups are starting to warm up to policies that give farmers incentives to capture and store carbon in their soil.

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Biofuels Coalition Challenges 2018 Small Refinery Exemptions in Court

The Biofuels Coalition filed a brief challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision in August of 2019 to approve 31 small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuels Standard for 2018. The group submitted the brief to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the EPA lacked the authority to issue such exemptions and that it acted arbitrarily and capriciously in attempting to do so. The coalition includes Growth Energy, Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Biodiesel Board, American Coalition for Ethanol, and the National Farmers Union. “Among all of EPA’s indefensible actions surrounding small refinery exemptions in recent years, the agency’s two-page decision to grant 31 waivers from 2018 RFS compliance takes the cake,” coalition representatives say. “Enough is enough.” The groups told the court that the EPA has absolutely no legal basis for continuing to destroy demand for renewable fuels, which is contrary to the intent of Congress for the RFS program. “When it adopted the RFS in 2005, Congress clearly intended for the waiver program to be temporary in nature,” they say. “But 15 years later, some refiners who’ve complied with the obligations in the past are trying to say they still need more time to comply with the current obligations.”

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Free Trade Coalition Wants Chinese Tariffs Removed

Americans for Free Trade is a broad coalition that includes Farmers for Free Trade. That coalition sent a letter to president-elect Joe Biden, asking him to remove the tariffs that President Donald Trump placed on Chinese imports. “Finding a way to remove the tariffs while creating an effective new, multilaterally-supported approach to China trade issues would provide an immediate economic boost to U.S. companies, especially the small and medium-sized companies,” the coalition says in the letter. “While we all agree that our trading partners must live up to their commitments, the current Section 301 China tariffs and Section 232 steel/aluminum tariffs have been a blunt instrument, imposing undue costs on U.S. employers and families.” The coalition says tariffs have increased the costs for U.S. manufacturers and importers, as well as U.S. farmers and ranchers, who they say, “are the subject of retaliatory actions and have thus seen sales and exports evaporate.” They point out that the future of U.S. trade policy must no longer be a go it alone approach. “We must work with our allies to address the systemic issues with China, which was the stated reason why the trade war started,” the letter also says.

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USDA Increase Certain Incentive Payments in the CCR Program

The USDA is increasing incentive payments for practices installed on land enrolled in the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program. The Farm Service Agency is upping the Practice Incentive Payment for installing practices from five percent to 20 percent. Producers will also receive a ten percent incentive payment for water quality practices on land enrolled in CRP’s continuous signup. FSA administers the CRP on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation. “The Conservation Reserve Program provides agricultural producers and landowners with a tool to conserve natural resources on their land that is less suitable for farming,” says FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “We offer several CRP initiatives, including continuous CRP, which greatly benefits natural resources like water. Increasing the incentive payment gives farmers even more reason to participate in continuous CRP, one of our nation’s largest conservation endeavors.” Under continuous CRP, producers can enroll environmentally sensitive land devoted to certain conservation practices with signup available at any time. FSA automatically accepts offers, provided the land and producer meet the eligibility requirements.

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February’s Western Farm Show is Canceled Because of COVID

The 2021 Western Farm Show, scheduled for February 19-21 in Kansas City, has been canceled by the Western Equipment Dealers Association, which is the event producer. Health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 are the reasons the show won’t happen next year. “Given the long history of this event as one of the Midwest’s premier farm shows, this is a very disappointing step to take,” says show manager Ken Dean. “But it’s the responsible decision for the protection of everyone involved during the current pandemic.” The Western Farm Show is one of the region’s largest indoor agricultural attractions, featuring 400,000 square feet of exhibit space filled with new farm and ranch equipment, as well as thousands of other Agricultural products and services. The event draws farmers and ranchers from all over the Midwest, and it features a low-stress livestock handling demonstration, Health and Safety Roundup, an FFA student food drive, and a Family Living Center with food, health, and décor items for sale. Dean noted that the 2021 show would have marked the event’s 60th anniversary, which will now be celebrated in 2022.

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National Chicken Council Unveils New Website

The National Chicken Council announced it has a newly refurbished website, which features an easy-to-navigate interface. The website highlights the latest policy, news, and information pertinent to the U.S. broiler industry. The new site integrates information from Chicken Check-In, an online resource for consumers to learn more about how the chicken they buy is raised and processed in the U.S. The updated site includes an industry stats and facts page, which outlines many of the most relevant topics that impact the chicken industry, as well as multimedia resources for journalists, and information about the most important policy issues affecting the industry. It also provides a timeline of the industry’s history, telling the story of the U.S. chicken industry and its crucial role in feeding the country for decades, and contains a revamped industry news page. “With the new look and information, the National Chicken Council website more effectively delivers on the primary purpose of serving as a resource for our industry,” says NCC President Mike Brown. To look at the new resources available on the new National Chicken Council site, go to www.nationalchickencouncil.org.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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.