READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, February 5th

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McConnell Announces Senate Committee Assignments

Senate Republicans announced their committee assignments this week, following the same announcement by Senate Democrats. For the Senate Agriculture Committee, new members include Alabama’s Tommy Tuberville and Roger Marshall of Kansas. The pair take seats previously occupied by retired chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia. Marshall was expected to join the agriculture committee, previously serving on the House Agriculture Committee before being elected to the Senate. Marshall was also assigned to the Senate Committee on Health, Education and Labor, the Small Business Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Marshall states, “As a fifth-generation farm kid, someone who has spent many years leading businesses in a variety of fields, and as a physician, I look forward to adding the Kansas perspective to each of these committees.” For the 117th Congress, committees will have an equal number of Republicans and Democrats on each committee due to the 50-50 Senate composition.

WHO Food Price Index Increases Again in January

The January Food Price Index averaged 113.3 points, or 4.3 percent higher than in December 2020. The index reached the eighth month of consecutive increases and registered its highest monthly average since July 2014. The latest increase reflected strong gains in the sugar, cereals and vegetable oils sub-indices, while meat and dairy values were also up but to a lesser extent. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations published the data Thursday. Global cereal grains rose 7.1 percent in January, as row crop prices rise, and vegetable oil prices were up 5.8 percent. Dairy prices were reported 1.6 percent higher. In January, butter and whole milk powder price quotations increased, underpinned by China’s high purchases ahead of its upcoming New Year holiday festivities. Meat prices were up one percent from December, but down 7.3 percent from this time last year. Sugar prices were up 8.1 percent in January, reaching levels not seen since May of 2017.

Senators Urging EPA to Restore Integrity to RFS

Farm state Senators urge the Environmental Protection Agency to “restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard.” Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, along with 13 Senate colleagues, made the request in a letter to EPA Acting Administrator Jane Nishida. The Senators urged the EPA to review three small refinery exemption waivers issued last-minute by the former EPA Administrator, and evaluate if those waivers comply with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. The letter states, “If these waivers do not meet the three-part test laid out in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, then we urge you to immediately reverse them and deny the refiners’ waiver requests.” The lawmakers also urged the EPA to swiftly issue a proposed rule for the 2021 Renewable Volume Obligation, which they say will provide growth in all renewable fuel categories and move forward with the E15 streamlining proposal to remove certain barriers to expanded sales of E15.

Thune, Shaheen Reintroduce Bill to Advance Renewable Fuel Technologies

Legislation reintroduced Thursday would approve certain advanced biofuel registrations that have gone without approval by the Environmental Protection Agency, despite the fuels already being successfully used in at least one state. Senators John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, reintroduced the bill they say will strengthen the biofuel industry. Under the bill, the EPA would also be required to render a decision within 90 days on any registration application that has been pending for at least 180 days and take action within 180 days for completed pathways petitions pending for at least 180 days.  The bill would also provide $2 million for the EPA to carry out the functions of the bill. Pathways are the feedstock method through which certain renewable fuels may be created, while registrations are individual facility certifications for producers affirming that their renewable fuel meets the standard required by the pathway.

USDA Announces More Key Staff Appointments

The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced more key staff appointments. Anne Knapke was named deputy assistant secretary for congressional relations. Knapke was recently a senior program officer focusing on nutrition at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Liz Archuleta was named director in the Intergovernmental affairs office. She served as a County Supervisor for Coconino County, Arizona, where she was the first Latina ever elected to that office. Jasmine Dickerson was named Legislative Director in the congressional relations office. Dickerson served as staff director for the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Departmental Operations on the House  Agriculture Committee. Jamal Habibi was named chief of staff for the Rural Housing Service. He previously was a senior associate at the Opportunity Finance Network. During the Obama Administration, he served as an outreach director at the Treasury Department, and a Special Assistant at USDA. Finally, Brandon Chaderton was named deputy White House liaison in the Secretary’s office. Most recently, he served as human resources director for the 2021 Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Below Average Runoff Forecast for the Upper Missouri River Basin in 2021

The updated 2021 calendar year runoff forecast for the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, Iowa, continues to be below average. Missouri River Basin Water Management Chief John Remus says, “Both plains snowpack and mountain snowpack continue to lag behind seasonal averages, and soil moisture continues to be much drier-than-normal.” January 2021 runoff in the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City was 1.1 million acre-feet, 141 percent of average. The above-average January runoff was primarily due to above-normal temperatures melting any accumulated plains snowpack and inhibiting river ice formation. The 2021 calendar year runoff forecast above Sioux City is 22.9 million acre-feet, 89 percent of average. The runoff forecast is based on soil moisture conditions, plains snowpack, mountain snowpack, and long-term precipitation and temperature outlooks. Mountain snowpack in the upper Basin is accumulating at below-average rates. The January 31 mountain snowpack in the Fort Peck reach was 78 percent of average, while the mountain snowpack in the Fort Peck to Garrison reach was 79 percent of average.

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.