READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, June 28th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Supreme Court Delivers Blow to Ethanol Industry

A Supreme Court ruling Friday left the biofuels industry disappointed. The Supreme Court overturned a 2020 appellate court ruling that struck down three small refinery exemptions granted by previous Environmental Protection Agency administrators. However, because certain elements of the appellate court ruling were left unchallenged and were not reviewed by the Supreme Court, the groups remain optimistic that the Biden administration will discontinue the past administration’s “flagrant abuse” of the refinery exemption program. A coalition, including the Renewable Fuels Association, National Farmers Union, National Corn Growers Association, and the American Coalition for Ethanol, responded, “we will not stop fighting for America’s farmers and renewable fuel producers.” The decision stems from a May 2018 challenge brought against EPA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit by the coalition. The petitioners argued that the small refinery exemptions were granted in direct contradiction to the statutory text and purpose of the RFS.

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NCBA Welcomes House Processing Capacity Bill

Introduction of the Butcher Block Act in the House of Representatives last week received a warm welcome from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The legislation would establish a stand-alone loan program through the Department of Agriculture to help processors expand capacity, improve marketing options for cattle producers and encourage competitive markets and pricing for live cattle. The supply of live cattle and the demand for U.S. beef are both strong, but a lack of processing capacity or “hook space” has stifled producer profitability. The legislation authorizes the Agriculture Secretary to establish a grant program that would support a range of research and training efforts aimed at strengthening the workforce to meet labor needs, and helping processors become federally inspected to increase capacity. NCBA President Jerry Bohn says the legislation “addresses both of those hurdles, and would go a long way to alleviating the bottleneck that is depressing live cattle prices for our farmers and ranchers.”

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Lawmakers Ask Biden Administration to Help Hog Farmers

More than 70 lawmakers late last week asked the Department of Agriculture to stop a recent court order the National Pork Producers Council says will cause harm to hog farmers. Lawmakers made the request in a letter led by Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Minnesota Republican Representative Jim Hagedorn. The letters call on the Biden administration to appeal a recent federal district court ruling striking down pork harvest facility line speeds allowed under USDA New Swine Inspection System. NPPC claims the order will lead to pork industry concentration and increased market power for plant operators at the expense of small hog farmers. NPPC President Jen Sorenson states, “While the administration can appeal the court’s decision until the end of August, the damage to U.S. pork producers will be immediate.” Pork Industry Economist Steve Meyer says the order “reduces competition because the impacted plants will process fewer hogs, leaving more pigs available to other packers.”

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Top House Ag Republican Opposes Growing Climate Solutions Act

The top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee opposes the Growing Climate Solutions Act passed by the Senate last week. Representative Glen GT Thompson, a Republican from Pennsylvania, says the bill is a “big-government solution in search of a problem.” The Senate passed the bill last week, with support from many agriculture groups. However, Thompson says, “The consequences of government intrusion into voluntary carbon markets have not been adequately explored and Congress should continue educating itself and vetting these issues before legislating.” However, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow called the bill a “win-win for farmers.” The legislation proposes a certification program at USDA to mitigate technical entry barriers to farmer and forest landowner participation in carbon credit markets. The bill also creates an online resource for farmers looking to connect with experts and establishes an Advisory Council to provide input to USDA and ensure the program remains effective and works for farmers.

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Ag, Manufacturing Groups, Welcome Infrastructure Framework Progress

The White House released the framework of an infrastructure package last week, supported by equipment manufactures and soybean farmers. The $1.2 trillion framework includes $109 billion for roads and bridges, $65 billion for broadband infrastructure and $7.5 billion for electric vehicles infrastructure. The plan to overhaul the country’s transportation, water and broadband infrastructure would invest resources proposed in President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan. The American Soybean Association, a long-standing advocate of investments for ports, waterways and road transportation, welcomed the announcement. ASA President Kevin Scott says, “We are thankful to see these issues prioritized and that the plan avoids tax provisions that would negatively impact farmers and their families, such as drastic changes to stepped-up basis.” The Association of Equipment Manufacturers welcomed the details, but stated, “the job is not done.” AEM’s Kip Eideberg says, “Despite what skeptics say, we can and must get this deal all the way across the finish line in a bipartisan manner.”

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Interagency Agreement to Coordinate Broadband Funding Deployment

The Department of Agriculture and other Federal Agencies Friday announced an interagency agreement to coordinate the distribution of broadband deployment funds. USDA, the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration signed the agreement. Each federal agency partner agrees to share information about existing or planned projects that receive funding from the various federal funding sources. The agreement also requires the federal agency partners to consider basing the distribution of funds from the programs on standardized broadband coverage data. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says broadband “is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected, adding, “USDA remains committed to being a strong partner with rural communities.” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo (Roh-MUN-doh) says the announcement “lays important groundwork for collaboration between agencies to ensure the federal government’s efforts to expand broadband access are as effective and efficient as possible.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Tucker 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.