READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, March 15th

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Senate Ag Committee Holds Climate Change Hearing

The Senate Agriculture Committee held its first hearing on climate change Thursday. Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, says sustainable practices farmers are using now help cut down their emissions. Stabenow says, “now it’s time to dramatically scale up this work.” Oklahoma Farmer Clay Pope, representing National Farmers Union, detailed how the Department of Agriculture helped his farm convert to no-till and cover crops. Pope says, “Our investment in soil health has helped us better prepare for climate change in a way that’s helped both our bottom line and the environment.” Cori Wittman, representing the Environmental Defense, told the committee, “we need robust investment and research” to develop methods to address agriculture’s role in climate change. Wittman called on lawmakers to support the design of voluntary, incentive-based programs. Top Republican on the Committee, John Boozman of Arkansas, says, “While protecting our climate is critical, we must avoid a heavy-handed government approach.” The committee also heard testimony from representatives of USA Rice, GROWMARK and Arizona Farm Bureau.

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EPA Considers Combining 2021-22 Biofuel Blending Targets

The Environmental Protection Agency is mulling over the idea to combine 2021 and 2022 biofuel blending obligations, according to a report by Reuters. The EPA has in the past combined biofuel targets after missing deadlines, most recently in 2015, when it announced 2014, 2015 and 2016 targets at the same time. Biofuel targets must be published annually under the Renewable Fuel Standard, outlining how many gallons of biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel refineries must blend into fuels. Trump administration EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler opted to delay the announcement last year, awaiting action in a Supreme Court case. The RFS has been long plagued by a battle between the oil industry and the biofuels industry. Ethanol production reached five-year lows last month, following demand destruction from EPA small refinery exemptions and the coronavirus pandemic. However, the industry sees the Biden Administration’s priority on climate as an opportunity to include biofuels in climate change policies.

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AEM Reports Monthly Equipment Sales

Farm tractor and combine sales continue to increase in both the U.S. and Canada, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. AEM released February sales data this week, showing U.S. tractor sales were up 41 percent from the same month last year.  For the first two months in 2021, more than 32,000 tractors were sold, which compares to 23,900 sold through February 2020, representing a 34 percent increase year to date. For the month, sales of two-wheel drive smaller tractors, under 40 horsepower, were up 47 percent from last year. Sales of 40 to 100 horsepower machines were up 28 percent. Meanwhile, sales of two-wheel drive 100-plus horsepower tractors were up 46 percent, while four-wheel drive tractors sales were down three percent. Combine sales were down 19 percent for the month. Sales of combines for the two months totaled 544, increasing 25 percent over the same period in 2020.

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Farm Groups Welcome Senate Confirmation of EPA Administrator

Farm groups welcome the confirmation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, hoping for more transparency than in previous administrations. Specifically, biofuels groups are seeking more support for the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Senate confirmed Regan to the post Wednesday. During his confirmation hearing, Regan emphasized that the “RFS is definitely a priority for this administration.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor congratulated Regan, while saying, “Administrator Regan has been on the record supporting biofuels as critical to help meet an ambitious climate agenda.” Crop Life American President and CEO says Regan’s commitment to reaching out and working with agriculture, “will be critical in developing solutions to address climate and to enhance the credibility and transparency” at the EPA. House Agriculture Chair David Scott joined the crowd congratulating Regan. Scott says he’ll work with the new EPA administrator to “ensure EPA’s pesticide registration programs remain trusted and science-based,” along with the role of the RFS to mitigate climate change.

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World Pork Expo Slated to Return After Two Year Delay

World Pork Expo is back on the schedule this year, following a two-year hiatus. The 2021 World Pork Expo will occur at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, June 9-11. NPPC President Jen Sorenson says, “We look forward to connecting with our fellow producers, business partners and others who contribute to our nation’s essential pork production system.” World Pork Expo in 2019 was canceled “out of an abundance of caution” as African swine fever spread at the time in foreign nations. The coronavirus pandemic forced cancelation of the event in 2020. NPPC will continue to monitor developments in COVID-19 guidelines for World Pork Expo to ensure the health and safety of all participants. Sorenson says, “A safe event is our number one priority, adding, “We will implement appropriate precautionary measures to ensure a great experience.” Registration information will soon be available online for those who plan to attend the 2021 World Pork Expo.

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NASDA CEO Announces Retirement

Barb Glenn, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, announced she would retire from her position this fall. Serving the organization over the last seven years, Glenn has marshaled NASDA as the unified voice for agriculture, but the organization says her influence on the industry stretches over her 40-year career. Glenn says, “It has been an honor to serve state agriculture departments and amplify their united voice.” NASDA President Ryan Quarles reflected on Glenn’s contributions, saying, “Glenn has worked tirelessly for more than four decades, benefiting all who rely on agriculture.” Glenn has spent her entire career serving the agriculture community. In 2014, Glenn was selected to serve as NASDA’s CEO. Glenn will remain in her position as NASDA CEO through early fall 2021 and will assist with the transition. NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association representing elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries and directors of state departments of agriculture.

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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.