READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, February 23rd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Biden EPA Supports 10th Circuit Court’s Decision on SREs

The Biden Administration handed a major victory to the corn ethanol industry. The EPA says it agrees with last year’s ruling by the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that rejected the Trump EPA’s retroactive waivers to oil refiners from the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Biden EPA says the Tenth Circuit ruling “better reflects” the law and Congress’s intent in establishing the RFS. Ethanol groups that filed suit against the Trump EPA hailed the EPA’s reversal under the new administration, which did not file a brief with the Supreme Court by Monday’s deadline, backing the earlier EPA’s position. Small refiners appealed the Tenth Circuit ruling, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, though it’s unclear what impact the latest development might have on the case going forward. Renewable Fuels Association’s CEO Geoff Cooper issued a statement, calling the announcement “a giant step forward” to restore the integrity to the RFS. The RFA and Growth Energy both agreed with EPA’s finding that the small refinery exemption is a temporary measure intended for true economic harm from compliance. The lower court had agreed that only previously existing exemptions could be extended. The RFA estimates that more than four billion gallons of ethanol demand were lost to dozens of Trump EPA RFS waivers.


Trade Policy will be a Big Topic on Thursday

Politico says trade policy will move front-and-center this week as the Senate Finance Committee considers Biden’s nominations for the U.S. Trade Representative and the number two Treasury official. Wally Adeyemo (Ah-dah-YAY-moh) is the nominee for Deputy Treasury Secretary, and Katherine Tai is the USTR nominee. How the Biden Administration will handle China in the wake of a trade war will be a key issue for both nominees. As the nation’s top trade negotiator, Tai would be responsible for reviewing the tariffs that Donald Trump put into effect on China and other nations. She would also be responsible for the Phase One Trade Deal that China has yet to live up to. Adeyemo will help lead the administration’s review of sanctions on Chinese leaders and firms that Trump put in place because of Beijing’s human rights abuses. Both nominees will likely take a tough rhetorical stance on China’s trade practices and abuses without making concrete promises that would limit future policy options. That will fall in with Biden’s promise to review Trump’s tariffs on China and other nations before taking further action.


USDA Forecasting Higher Production in 2021

The USDA sees more corn and soybean production ahead this year. A DTN report says the USDA’s initial Grains and Oilseeds Outlook released last week includes a rise in both planted acres and the yield forecast. The agency says corn production will be 15.2 billion bushels for the 2021-2022 crop, while soybean production is forecast at 4.5 billion bushels. Higher demand is in the forecast for both crops, which will keep the year’s ending stocks lower, especially in soybeans. USDA released the Grains and Oilseeds Outlook at its Agricultural Outlook Forum. USDA says farmers will plant 92 million acres of corn. The yield projection is 179.5 bushels per acre, which will make the yield total of 15.2 billion bushels. The average corn price will drop by ten cents to $4.20 a bushel. USDA says farmers will plant 90 million acres of soybeans, up 6.9 million from last year. The soybean projection of 4.5 billion bushels is nine percent higher than the previous marketing year. Ending stocks are projecting to be 145 million bushels. The season-average farm price will be $11.25 a bushel. The wheat production forecast for 2021-2022 is 1.827 billion bushels, almost unchanged from the previous year. Total acreage will be 45 million acres, with a national average yield of 49.1 bushels per acre and a higher farm-gate price of $5.50 per bushel.


Ag Climate Alliance Expands and Makes Policy Recommendations

The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance announced its membership is expanding as it puts together new policy working groups. Last year, the Alliance made more than 40 recommendations on how agriculture can help mitigate climate change and the new groups will focus on developing a set of more-specific policy proposals. The eight founding member organizations of the Alliance recently welcomed 14 new groups to the Steering Committee. They include the American Seed Trade Association, American Sugar Alliance, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and many more. Congress and the Biden Administration have expressed high levels of interest in the previously released FACA recommendations and requested additional guidance on achieving the goals laid out in the report released last November. The groups are working on producing more detailed recommendations on the carbon bank concept, tax credits, and other incentives, as well as climate research. “We are encouraged that leaders in both the House and Senate are requesting more detailed guidance to achieve FACA’s climate goals and recommendations,” says AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We also welcome the 34 new members of FACA who represent farmers, agribusinesses, state governments, and environmental advocates.”


United Fresh Releases 2020 Fourth Quarter Report

Fresh produce continues its steady growth at retail, with increased sales for fruits and vegetables during the fourth quarter of 2020. That’s according to a new report on United Fresh, detailing the fourth quarter of last year and the 2020 year-end report. Among the fourth quarter highlights, both fruits and vegetables continued to grow as sales surged across categories driven by consumers making more shopping trips and spending more during those trips. Total fruit sales generated $7.3 billion in the last quarter of 2020, representing 7.7 percent growth over the previous year. Vegetable dollar sales grew 14 percent during the quarter, reaching $8.8 billion. Some of the key numbers from the Year-End report show produce departments generating $7.1 billion in 2020, accounting for 33 percent of total fresh sales, second only to the meat department. Total fruit sales in the U.S. reached $33.7 billion and were 14.4 percent higher than the previous year. Apples, grapes, and bananas ranked as the top three categories in sales. Vegetable sales reached a new high of $35.8 billion and were 14 percent higher than in 2019. Pre-packed salads, tomatoes, and potatoes were the top three categories in sales.


Dry Weather Concerns in South America Continue

The corn and soybean harvest in South America continues to accelerate, and as the planting window for the second-corn crop opens, temperature and precipitation patterns become more important. Spotty showers in parts of Brazil are slowing down harvest and delaying the second-corn crop planting efforts. Drier weather in southern Brazil and Argentina has been more favorable for harvest. Weather Trends 360 says the prospect for dry weather will continue into March, which isn’t optimistic for the immature crops and the second-corn crop plants. In central and western Brazil, spotty showers are causing harvest delays as producers dodge hit-or-miss showers in their fields. Late planting of the second-corn crop means a risk of the plants entering the critical pollination period as the rainy season in Brazil ends, which puts the yield at risk. Overall, the southern third of Brazil will be stuck in a dry trend through next month. Dry and hot conditions will cause soil moisture to be at a deficit across much of the region, especially in Argentina.

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.