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

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Growth Energy Calls on Congress to Extend Biofuel Tax Provisions

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor sent a letter to Congressional leaders this week that called on lawmakers to include biofuels in any legislation that would extend expiring tax provisions at year’s end. There is a growing possibility that Congress will consider passing a tax extenders package before the current congressional session comes to an end. In the letter, Skor asks congressional leadership to consider extending the Section 40 Second-Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit and the Section 45Q Tax Credit. The Section 40 Second-Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit is a credit per-gallon of second-generation biofuel that Skor says, “Provides an essential incentive for our biofuels industry to produce a low-carbon, renewable fuel which keeps our rural communities afloat.” The Section 45Q Tax Credit is a credit on a per-ton basis of any carbon dioxide sequestered, encouraging ethanol plants to further reduce their carbon footprint. “Especially during a time of depressed gasoline demand, we must use all legislative tools available to support our businesses and infrastructure workforce,” Skor says.

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Blueberry Growers Form Alliance to Battle Rising Imports

America’s blueberry growers established a new coalition called the American Blueberry Growers Alliance. The goal is to seek relief from rising imports that are harming their business. The alliance will provide information and support to an ongoing U.S. International Trade Commission investigation into the serious injury caused by increasing imports of fresh, chilled, and frozen blueberries under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974. Blueberry imports come in from several countries in the Western Hemisphere. Those imports rose by more than 60 percent from 2015 to 2019. Imports from Peru and Mexico have increased by 1,200 and 268 percent during that same period, respectively, helping to drive down blueberry prices by double-digits. Alliance members want bipartisan support from the U.S. government and Congress to use existing trade laws to remedy the injury to U.S. growers. “We’ve been telling Washington about the unfair trade practices for years,” says Alliance steering committee chair Jerome Crosby. “Our family farms continue to be harmed by a flood of blueberry imports. We need relief and for our leaders to stand with American growers.” The Alliance includes growers from Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and California.

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Tyson Foods Fires Seven Managers Over COVID Betting

Tyson Foods fired seven top managers at its largest pork processing plant after an investigation confirmed allegations that they bet on how many workers would test positive for COVID. The investigation was led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and revealed details that an ABC News article called “troubling allegations.” An outbreak at the Tyson Plant in Waterloo, Iowa, infected more than 1,000 employees, six of whom died. “We value our people and expect everyone on the team, especially our leaders, to operate with integrity and care in everything we do,” says Tyson Foods CEO Dean Banks. “The behavior exhibited by these individuals does not represent the Tyson core values, which is why we took immediate action to get to the truth.” Banks traveled to the Waterloo plant this week to talk about the actions with the employees. Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson says the company won’t release any detailed findings of the investigation or the names of those fired because of privacy issues. “We can tell you that Mr. Holder and his team looked at the gaming allegations and found enough evidence for us to terminate those involved,” Mickelson says.

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Bipartisan Bill Would End Abuse of Conservation Easements

Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley and a bipartisan group of three other senators introduced a bill called the “Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act.” The goal of the legislation is to stop the abuse of conservation easements, save taxpayers billions of dollars, and promote conservation in the U.S. “The conservation easement program is an important tool for protecting and preserving our environment,” Grassley says. “But bad-faith scammers have taken advantage of the program through abusive schemes at the expense of the American taxpayer.” Grassley investigated the growing number of scams and says they won’t stop without legislative action. “I’m glad to join Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Ron Wyden of Oregon, along with fellow Republican Steve Daines of Montana, in introducing this bill that would stop these scams from undermining the good work of farmers, ranchers, and conservationists,” Grassley adds. Despite increased enforcement from the Internal Revenue Service, recent IRS data shows the total amount of deductions claimed through these tax shelters increased from $6.8 billion in 2017 to $9.2 billion in 2018. The bill preserves an important charitable deduction for people who have true charity and conservation in mind, including for family farms and ranches.

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New Record Set in NSP Sorghum Yield Contest

National Sorghum Producers is proud to announce that a new U.S. dryland sorghum yield record is 245.86 bushels per acre. Ella Johnston of Fulton County, Pennsylvania, set the record in the 35th National Sorghum Yield Contest. NSP says sorghum producers faced weather challenges, economic uncertainty, and a challenging year overall, but they still showed resilience, continued to farm and produced high yielding sorghum. The 2020 National Sorghum Yield Contest had seven national winners selected from three categories for both the eastern and western regions of the U.S. This year’s top yield and Bin Buster winner is Johnston’s new dryland record. “The National Sorghum Yield Contest is an avenue to not only highlight the yield achievements of our producers but also to discover, learn, and engage with our members from New Jersey to Idaho and in between,” says NSP Board of Directors Chairman Kody Carson, a sorghum producer from Texas. “This year demonstrates the resilience of our producers, and we’re proud of pushing those boundaries and revealing the potential of sorghum in record-setting ways.”

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EU-UK Trade Talks will Go Past Christmas

Senior British Minister Michael Gove says that Britain had hoped to reach a trade deal with the European Union by now, but the talks may now go on until after Christmas. “We’ll want to ensure that parliament has a say, and a chance to scrutinize any agreement reached,” Gove tells a parliamentary committee. “So, a realistic deadline will likely be immediately in the days after Christmas.” Reuters says any possible disruption at British ports after the U.K. ends its status-quo transition period with the European Union and introduces new customs rules will be short-lived. A previous warning from the government said that even with a trade agreement, the 7,000 trucks heading for ports in southeast England would be held in check. Gove tells the parliamentary committee that’s a worst-case scenario. “I would expect that we would find that after an initial few days and weeks of a potential disruption that things will resolve themselves and find a new normal relatively early in the new year,” Gove adds. The British Minister added that if there isn’t time for parliament to have a say on any potential agreement, the U.K. will have to trade on World Trade Organization terms.

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.