READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 20th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

*UPDATED*

Trump EPA Issues Last-Minute SRE’s

In a last-minute effort, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency issued three small refinery exemptions. The action reverses one denial from 2018 and granting two for the 2019 compliance year. The decision comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s agreement to hear a Tenth Circuit case that overturned three small refinery exemptions that had been inappropriately granted. In a statement, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor called on the incoming Biden Administration to reverse harm done to rural America through SRE abuse. Skor says, “. Given President-elect Biden’s commitments on the campaign trail, we‘re confident his incoming team will swiftly work to reverse the damage these oil handouts have done to rural America by this midnight maneuvering.” Rumors that the EPA was prepping to issue the three waivers surfaced last week. EPA’s action brings the total of SREs granted by the Trump Administration to 88, totaling 4.3 billion gallons of biofuel blending demand destroyed. 

Ag Groups Welcome Biden Picks for Agriculture Deputy Secretary

Farm groups applaud incoming President Joe Biden’s pick for Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary. Biden recently announced the nomination of Dr. Jewel Bronaugh (bruh-nah) to the post. Bronaugh, in 2018 was appointed as the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner. She previously served as the Virginia State Executive Director for the USDA Farm Service Agency during the Obama administration. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “Dr. Bronaugh’s nomination, as well as the nomination of Tom Vilsack for Secretary of Agriculture, shows President-elect Biden is carefully considering the challenges facing our nation’s farmers.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says, “Under Dr. Jewel Bronaugh’s leadership, the USDA will be in good hands,” adding, “As the first Black woman to hold this position, Dr. Bronaugh also brings an important perspective to the USDA.” Bronaugh has more than 20 years of experience in food and agricultural issues. If confirmed, she would be the first Black woman to hold the second-in-command position at USDA.

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USDA and FDA Sign MOU on Animal Biotech Regulations

The Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a regulatory environment at USDA for agricultural animal biotechnology innovation. The agreement allows USDA to lead animal biotech regulatory framework. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stated the effort “clears a path to bring our regulatory framework into the 21st century.” The MOU outlines responsibilities concerning the regulation of certain animals developed using genetic engineering intended for agricultural purposes. The MOU complements USDA’s issuance of an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Movement of Animals Modified or Developed by Genetic Engineering on December 28, 2020. Under this framework, USDA would safeguard animal and human health by providing end-to-end oversight from pre-market reviews through post-market food safety monitoring for certain farm animals modified or developed using genetic engineering intended for human food. The MOU also allows for the transition of portions of FDA’s pre-existing animal biotechnology regulatory oversight to USDA.

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USDA Improvements to Livestock Risk Protection Insurance Program

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced further changes to the Livestock Risk Protection insurance plan will take effect on January 20 for crop year 2021 and succeeding crop years. The changes are part of the last-minute regulatory push by the Trump administration. Outgoing USDA Risk Management Agency Administrator Martin Barbre says, “These changes are a direct reflection of that feedback and will improve LRP coverage for producers in 2021 and beyond.” USDA says the improvements include increasing livestock head limits for feeder and fed cattle to 6,000 head per endorsement or 12,000 head annually and swine to 40,000 head per endorsement or 150,000 head annually. Additionally, the changes announced Tuesday modify the requirement to own insured livestock until the last 60 days of the endorsement. USDA is also increasing the endorsement lengths for swine up to 52 weeks and creating new feeder cattle and swine types to allow for unborn livestock to be insured.

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USDA Issues Domestic Hemp Production Final Rule Notice

The flurry of last-minute regulations from the Trump administration includes a final rule concerning Domestic Hemp Production. The Department of Agriculture published the final rule notice in the Federal Register Tuesday. The U.S. Hemp Growers Association says the final rule appears to address many of the concerns the organization expressed during a comment period. Changes include allowing a producer a maximum of one negligent violation in a growing season, but the threshold for finding such negligence is moved from .5 percent to one percent. Alternative disposal for non-compliant plants will be outlined in a separate remediation techniques paper from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Disposal and remediation measures will be expanded. Because there are not enough Drug Enforcement Administration registered laboratories to test all hemp in 2020 and 2021, non-DEA registered labs will be recognized for testing until January 1, 2022.  Sample collection is expanded to 30 days before harvest instead of the former 15 days.

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United Soybean Board Partnership Launches Pilot Phase of Sustainably Grown U.S. Soy Mark

The United Soybean Board is teaming up with partners from Soylent and DuPont Nutrition and Biosciences this spring in a pilot program identifying their products and ingredients as being made with sustainably grown U.S. soy. The companies will use the new Sustainably Grown U.S. Soy mark, which recognizes soy ingredients that have originated from a system of continuous improvement. The goal of this food industry innovation is to improve sustainability in product supply chains from farm to fork. The Sustainably Grown U.S. Soy mark is based on a national system of sustainability and conservation laws and regulations and farmer participation in the U.S. Farm Program. It seeks to increase demand for soybeans grown by U.S. farmers who commit to conservation practices. Products carrying the mark contain soy ingredients grown in the United States, compliant with all U.S. environmental regulations, protect highly erodible soils and wetlands and were grown on family farms with responsible labor practices.

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Gas and Diesel Prices Rising

Fuel prices are rising in the new year, with the national average gas price reaching $2.38 a gallon this week. The national average price of diesel increased 2.6 cents in the last week and stands at $2.62 per gallon. Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy says, “Gas prices have jumped to yet another multi-month high as crude oil price rise amidst perceived improvement in the COVID-19 pandemic.” Additionally, rumors incoming President Joe Biden will cancel approval of the Keystone XL pipeline after inauguration Wednesday would cut off reliable Canadian oil to the U.S., according to DeHaan. He says oil prices may see additional pressure in the coming days, but says not to expect much of a break from rising gas prices, which now stand less than twenty cents from their year-ago levels. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil continued to rally over the last week as a weakened U.S. dollar, as well as continued market optimism, have boosted oil prices.

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.