READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, February 22nd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

RFS Integrity Act Introduced in the House

Democrat Angie Craig of Minnesota and Republican Dusty Johnson of South Dakota introduced the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act into the House of Representatives last week. The goal of the legislation is to reduce the secrecy currently surrounding the small refinery exemption process and bring more certainty into the renewable fuel marketplace. “We applaud the introduction of the RFS Integrity Act and the strong bipartisan effort to restore integrity and transparency to the Renewable Fuel Standard,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “The intent of the RFS is to blend more biofuels into our nation’s transportation fuel supply every year, not to have oil companies use questionable tactics to delay and avoid their blending obligations.” She says that creates tremendous amounts of uncertainty for farmers, biofuel producers, and the entire fuel supply chain. The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t impose a clear deadline for submitting a request for an SRE. If enacted, the RFS Integrity Act would set an annual deadline of June 1 for refineries to submit SRE petitions. It would also bring greater transparency to SREs by no longer excluding the refinery’s name, the number of exempted gallons requested, and the compliance years requested from public disclosure.

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Ethanol Production Drops to Lowest Level in Five Years

During the week ending on February 12, the Energy Information Administration announced that ethanol production dropped to its lowest level in five months while stockpiles grew. The EIA report says that ethanol production fell to 911,000 barrels per day, down from 937,000 barrels a day during the prior week. That’s the lowest production level since late September. A Successful Farming report says the Midwest, which produces the most ethanol of any region in the country, saw its production drop to 868,000 barrels a day. That’s a drop from the 895,000 per day from the previous week and the lowest output level since late September. The East Coast and Gulf Coast regions stayed at an average of 12,000 barrels per day, while the Rocky Mountain and West Coast production levels were unchanged at 9,000 barrels per day, on average, according to the EIA. Stockpiles increased to 24.297 million barrels in the seven days ending on February 12. In other news the ethanol industry won’t like, the Environmental Protection Agency says that all 16 petitions from small refineries that would exempt them from meeting blending obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard from 2020 are still pending. In total, 66 petitions that date back as far as 2011 are still pending.

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Biden Immigration Bill Introduced in Congress

Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Representative Linda Sanchez of California, both Democrats, introduced President Biden’s immigration proposal into their respective chambers. The Hagstrom Report says both members of Congress say the bill will “create an earned pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, providing Dreamers, Temporary Protective Status holders, and some farm workers with an expedited three-year path to citizenship.” It also gives all other undocumented immigrants who pass background checks and pay taxes an eight-year path to citizenship without fear of deportation. National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern praised everyone involved with moving the legislation forward. However, he says, “Reforms to the immigration system must include changes crucial for the dairy workforce.” Reforms the NMPF wants to see include extending legal protections to current workers and their families that they’ve earned and enables dairy farmers to use a guest worker program to supplement their domestic workforce when they need to. Democratic Representative Jim Costa of California is a co-sponsor of the legislation. “I want to see this pass for the hardworking immigrants that have an earned path to citizenship,” he says. “For too long, we have talked about reform without taking any serious action.”

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USDA Fills Key Leadership Positions

The USDA announced the appointment of Gloria Montaño (Mon-TAHN-yoh) Greene as the Deputy Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation. Zach Ducheneaux (DOO-shu-know) is the new Farm Service Agency Administrator. Montaño Greene is a former Director of the Farm Service Agency in Arizona from 2014-2017, a position she was appointed to by then-President Obama. She led the implementation of the 2013 Farm Bill Programs across the state. Ducheneaux is the current Executive Director of the Intertribal Agriculture Council, the largest, longest-standing Native American agricultural organization in the U.S. The Council represents all Federally Recognized Tribes and serves 80,000 Native American producers. He also operates his family’s ranch on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in north-central South Dakota with his brothers. “We are honored to have professionals of the caliber of Gloria and Zach join our team,” says Katharine Ferguson, Chief of Staff with the Office of the USDA Secretary. “With their leadership of USDA farm and conservation programs, we will create new market opportunities and streams of income for farmers, ranchers, and producers that address climate change and environmental challenges, strengthen local and regional food systems, and lead the world in food, fiber, and feed production for export.”

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USDA Clarifies Rules Regarding Buying and Selling Seeds from Other Countries

The USDA recently finished a months-long investigation into thousands of reports from citizens who received unsolicited seed packages in the mail last year. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service found no evidence that someone was intentionally trying to harm U.S. agriculture with the shipments. APHIS did confirm that some of the seeds sent to the U.S. were unsolicited, but others were seeds that the recipients ordered, although the buyers didn’t know they were coming from a foreign country. Regardless, most shipments were illegal because they came into the country without a permit or phytosanitary certificate. “Plants and seeds for planting online from other countries can pose a significant risk to U.S. agriculture and natural resources because they can carry harmful insects and pathogens,” the APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine Program says in a statement. “We’ve been working closely with e-commerce companies and other federal partners to stop the flow of illegal plant and seed shipments into the U.S.” The agency set up a new site to help in its efforts to facilitate the safe trade of plants and seeds through the e-commerce pathway. More information is available at www.aphis.usda.gov.

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USCA Wants Beef Imports Halted Because of FMD

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association wants beef imports from Namibia (Nah-ME-bee-ah) halted following reports of Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreaks in the country. Namibia’s livestock industry is divided into two zones by what’s called the Veterinary Cordon Fence. North of the VCF is where the infections have taken place, while south of the fence is considered an FMD-free zone. However, the region’s buffalo populations are consistent carriers of FMD and can move freely in and out of the country, potentially contacting domestic cattle herds. The country’s elephant populations have also been known to damage the fence and allow wild animals to cross to either side. “Now, more than ever, we need to ensure there are strong health and safety standards in place within our food supply chain to guard against threats to our agriculture industry,” says USCA President Brooke Miller. “The U.S. hasn’t had an FMD outbreak for almost 100 years, but we continue to recklessly pursue trading relations with countries that have known outbreaks. We want this to be a prominent topic in the upcoming Senate and House Agriculture Committees.” USCA estimates that a U.S. outbreak of FMD would result in as much as $14 billion in losses. Not only would it hit farm income, but it would also affect consumers and international trade relations.  

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.