READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, January 21st

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Ag and Food Groups Welcome President Biden

Agriculture groups welcomed President Joe Biden to Washington, D.C., while looking forward to tackling current issues. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says AFBF “congratulates President Joe Biden,” adding the same for Vice President Kamala Harris “as she makes history as the first woman to serve as America’s vice president.” Duvall laid out the issues facing rural America in his statement, including labor, broadband and sustainability goals, adding, “Let’s get to work on solutions.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says, “We stand ready to work with the Biden administration to ensure they are implemented in a way that supports the success” of farmers and ranchers. While congratulating Biden, American Feed Industry Association President and CEO Constance Cullman stated, “Our country is facing tough challenges, but just as a farmer does not give up on farming after a difficult growing year, we will not give up in our belief that we can and will meet these challenges.”

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Biden Signs Executive Orders Following Inauguration

Day one of the Biden administration brought several executive orders signed by the President, including those reversing actions taken during the Trump Administration. President Joe Biden called for unity during his inauguration speech, stating, “We must end this uncivil war that pits red versus blue, rural versus urban,” before planning to sign 17 executive orders later in the day. Of note to rural America and agriculture, the actions include an executive order to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and to block the Keystone XL pipeline. Another executive order halts construction of the border wall by terminating the national emergency declaration used to fund it. Another action seeks to rejoin the World Health Organization. Additionally, the President took steps to extend COVID-19 policies around evictions and student loans.  Other actions include executive orders covering human rights, Immigration and ethics. However, his first action created a mask mandate on federal property and public transportation.

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USDA Announces Key Staff Appointments

The Biden-era Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced the names of those who will hold senior staff positions in Washington, D.C. Gregory Parham was named Interim Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration. Parham served as Assistant Secretary for Administration from 2013-2016. Katharine Ferguson was named Chief of Staff in the Office of the Secretary. Ferguson served in the Obama Administration as Chief of Staff for the White House Domestic Policy Council and as Chief of Staff for Rural Development at USDA. Robert Bonnie was named Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Senior Advisor for Climate. Bonnie led the USDA transition team for the Biden administration. Sara Bleich was named Senior Advisor for COVID-19. From 2015-2016, she served as a White House Fellow in the Obama Administration. Kumar Chandran was named Senior Advisor for Nutrition. He served as Chief of Staff to the Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services in the Obama Administration. And Justo Robles was named White House Liaison. Before joining USDA, Robles served as Georgia Deputy Coalitions Director for Biden for President.

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China Hopeful for Better U.S. Relations with Biden Administration

With President Joe Biden taking over in Washington, D.C., China retired it’s claimed stance of improving relations with the United States. A Chinese government official stated Wednesday, “We are committed to developing a relationship with the United States.” That would include trade relations following the Trump trade war. Last week, The U.S. China Business Council called for an end to the trade war, stating failing to do so would cause both short-term shocks to company supply chains. China also issued sanctions on former Trump administration officials Wednesday, as President Biden was sworn into office. Those sanctions included Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was a vocal critic of China. When asked if the nation will miss Pompeo as an “easy target,” a Chinese Foreign Affairs spokesperson says, “Of course. He’s such a good laughing stock. It’s like a new drama every day. But I think he has done irreparable damage to the U.S. national image and reputation.”

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RFA Files Petition and Emergency Motion to Halt Last-minute SREs

The Renewable Fuels Association filed a petition for review and an emergency motion to stay the effectiveness of three small refinery exemptions granted Tuesday. The Environmental Protection Agency announced the waivers with less than 24 hours remaining in the Trump administration. RFA’s emergency motion says, “EPA’s decision will inflict substantial, immediate, and irreversible harm.” Data released by EPA Tuesday evening show that the two 2019 compliance exemptions reduced that year’s RFS standards by 150 million gallons, while one 2018 exemption erased 110 million gallons of renewable fuel requirements. The total eliminated volume of 260 million gallons is equivalent to shutting down three or four ethanol plants for a full year, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper says the waivers “are completely without legal merit,” adding the organization’s request seeks to immediately prevent the agency from doing further economic damage to the ethanol industry.

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Commodity Classic Announced Dates for Virtual Event

Commodity Classic has set the dates for its 2021 Special Edition, which will take place March 2-5, 2021, as a digital experience. Registration will open Tuesday, January 26, 2021, at CommodityClassic.com. The registration fee is waived for the first 5,000 farmers. All other registrants and farmers after the first 5,000 will be charged $20. The registration covers all online educational sessions and events and access to all archived sessions through April 30, 2021. Organizers say the digital experience will focus on providing educational sessions and farmer networking opportunities. Participating sponsors will showcase new products, services and innovation through a variety of online presentations, educational sessions and interactive discussions. Additionally, a lineup of agriculture thought leaders, top-yielding farmers, agribusiness representatives and Commodity Classic association leaders are expected to be on the schedule. In October, Commodity Classic announced that it was pivoting to a digital event due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 Commodity Classic was originally scheduled for San Antonio, Texas, in early March.

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.