READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, August 18th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Biofuel and Farm Groups File Petition for Rehearing of D.C. Circuit RVP Decision

Biofuel and farm groups filed a petition for rehearing with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the recent American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers vs. EPA decision. The court decision vacated a 2019 regulation allowing year-round sales of a fifteen percent ethanol fuel blends. The petition asks the full court to rehear the case because of significant legal errors in the three-judge panel’s decision, handed down on July 2. Announced Tuesday, Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association and the Renewable Fuels Association filed the petition. Together, the three national organizations stated, “If allowed to stand, this court’s decision to vacate EPA’s rulemaking to allow E15 to be sold year-round will have devastating consequences for the market expansion of homegrown biofuels.” The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a 2019 rule by the Environmental Protection Agency that lifted restrictions on the sale of E15. The case was a challenge by oil refiners to the rulemaking that allowed the year-round sale of E15.

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Comment Period Closes on NCBA Product of USA Petition

The comment period just closed on a petition to change “Product of USA” labeling to “Processed in the USA” by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Comments closed Tuesday on the petition announced in June and submitted to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. NCBA calls “Product of USA” labeling “a disservice to American consumers and cattle producers alike,” suggesting the claim implies that a beef product is entirely of U.S. origin. Senator Mike Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota, charged a flurry of comments before the deadline, after announcing his opposition to the proposal, with several following comments supporting his take. In comments submitted Friday, Rounds states, “If FSIS adopts NCBA’s proposal, consumers would have to sacrifice knowing where their beef comes from only to merely know where their beef is processed.” Rounds, agreeing with NCBA the “Product of USA” label is misleading, adds the “Processed in the USA” label “woefully undermines the purpose of the label in the first place.”

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Scott, Bishop, Asks USTR to Tackle EU Trade Barriers for Peanuts

Top House Agriculture lawmakers want the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office to resolve an issue regarding European Union aflatoxin testing in peanuts. House Agriculture Committee Chair David Scott and House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee Chair Sanford Bishop sent a letter on the matter to USTR this week. The Georgia lawmakers say the non-tariff trade barrier impacts”American peanut farmers and the entire U.S. peanut industry.” Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring contaminant that affects a variety of crops, including peanuts. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration established a maximum threshold for aflatoxin of 15 parts per billion for raw peanuts and 20 parts per billion for peanut products. However, the EU enforces an extra level of testing at European ports and maintains thresholds for aflatoxin that range from as low as two parts per billion to 15 parts per billion. The U.S. peanut industry estimates approximately $170 million in lost sales in recent years because of the strict testing requirements.

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USDA Expanding Importation of Fresh Citrus Fruit from Australia

The Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday the expansion of the production areas in Australia authorized to import fresh citrus fruit into the United States. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service also revised the conditions under which citrus from Australia may be imported. Currently, imports of fresh citrus fruit are allowed into the United States from three Australian regions, but the announcement adds three additional approved regions. APHIS scientists prepared a pest risk assessment and a commodity import evaluation document to identify phytosanitary measures to safely import citrus without introducing pests. The citrus fruit must either originate from an approved production area that is free of Queensland fruit fly, Mediterranean fruit fly, and/or Lesser Queensland fruit fly, or be treated with cold treatment or other approved treatment. Based on the findings of a pest risk analysis, APHIS determined that the application of one or more outlined phytosanitary measures will sufficiently mitigate the risks of plant pests and noxious weeds.

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USDA Invests $69 Million to Support Critical Food and Nutrition Security Needs

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced a $69 million investment to address the food and nutrition needs of low-income communities. Twenty awards totaling $61.5 million are for Nutrition Incentive Grants, and 15 awards totaling $7.5 million are for Produce Prescription Grants. The grants are all part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program COVID Relief and Response grants program. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack states the funding “will help households in communities across the country, many hard-hit by the pandemic and the resulting economic challenges, be better equipped to purchase healthy fruits and vegetables.” USDA says the funding also enhances the resilience of food and healthcare systems impacted by the pandemic. As part of the funding, California’s Nutrition Incentive Program will receive $6.3 million to help Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants purchase fresh and healthy food. And Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation in Kentucky will receive $619,000 to provide SNAP participants extra incentives to purchase fresh produce.

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Haaland, Vilsack, Announce New Pay Initiatives for Wildland Firefighters

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday announced the implementation of President Biden’s pay initiatives to support federal wildland firefighters. The initiatives will increase the amount paid to approximately 3,500 firefighters with the Department of the Interior and more than 11,300 firefighters at the USDA Forest Service to ensure all firefighters are paid at least $15 an hour. Secretary Vilsack states, “Supporting our brave firefighters with pay, benefits and career opportunities that reflect the importance and danger of the work that they do is critical to facing the mounting wildfire threat.” Interior currently employs roughly 5,000 wildland firefighters across the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service. Approximately 3,500 of those employees will receive $7.6 million under these initiatives. The USDA Forest Service employs 14,500 wildland firefighters and, under these initiatives, more than 11,300 will receive an additional $24.3 million.

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.