NATIONAL AG NEWS SPONSORED BY THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

EPA Finalizes Extension of Refinery Compliance Deadlines

The Environmental Protection Agency is working on finalizing proposed rolling compliance deadlines for 2020, 2021, and 2022. Ethanol groups like Growth Energy weren’t pleased with the announcement. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says delaying the compliance deadlines is completely contradictory to efforts to lower rising gas prices and increase the use of cleaner, low-carbon fuels. “By continuing to delay compliance deadlines, the EPA is creating uncertainty in the marketplace and stunting the blending of the biofuel needed to decarbonize transportation as the Renewable Fuel Standard intended,” Skor says. She also says it’s vital that the EPA moves forward on getting the RFS back on track. “EPA can start by swiftly finalizing the proposed volumes for 2022,” she adds. “Administrator Regan has emphasized time and again the need for transparency and certainty regarding the RFS. We need him to follow through on his promises to the industry and provide that certainty for biofuel producers.”

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U.S. Ethanol Stocks Rising as Demand Sags

At one time, the ethanol industry appeared to have put the COVID-19 lull in the rearview mirror. Sky-high output and profit margins matched up. However, Reuters says demand is dropping while oil prices rise, which is leading to a record level of ethanol stocks. America’s ethanol stocks reached the lowest point in five years in December. However, stocks jumped more than 18 percent in the last four weeks, the biggest jump in records going back to 2010. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s data says stocks hit 24.48 million barrels last week. The only time stocks were higher occurred between February and May of 2020. Output levels have been relatively normal since November after almost reaching all-time highs in October. But profit margins have been slashed dramatically in the last two months. Corn processing margins hit $1.80 per gallon in November, the strongest level since 2014. But last week, the margins were a few cents above zero.

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Senators Write Letter to EPA on Refinery Exemption Denials

Senator Shelly Capito (Cah-PEE-toe) of West Virginia and several colleagues wrote a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan regarding the agency’s recent denial of refinery exemption petitions. The letter asks the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its proposed blanket denials of small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard. The senators say it runs counter to the clear congressional intent under the Clean Air Act. “We are puzzled by the action EPA took in these proposals, including the unprecedented and drastic step to propose a blanket denial of all 65 outstanding small refinery hardship petitions,” the letter says, “especially at a time of increasing gas prices and several small refinery closures.” They also say the current proposal not only neglects the economic impacts but nullifies Congressional intent by deliberately amending the Clean Air Act which allows for small refinery exemptions for those that face disproportionate economic hardship due to RFS compliance.

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Report Looks at “Repurposing Farm Subsidies”

A new report from the World Bank and the International Food Policy Research Institute looked into farm subsidies and overall farm policies. The report says that repurposing current agricultural public policies “could deliver multiple benefits for people, the planet, and the economy.” Investing in climate-smart innovations that both increase agricultural productivity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions would have many benefits. The recommended innovations could reduce overall emissions from agriculture by more than 40 percent, restore 105 million hectares of agricultural land to natural habitats, and reduce the cost of healthy foods, which would also contribute to better nutritional outcomes.” Under a ”business as usual” scenario, the report estimates that greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production will double by 2040, with 56 million hectares of new land being used for agriculture between 2020 and 2040. It also says that just eliminating support would lower farm output and increase poverty while generating only modest climate gains.

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Cattle Industry Convention Features High-Profile Speakers

The 2022 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show is this week in Houston. The speaker lineup includes people ranging from sports heroes to global leaders. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack will appear virtually. Robert Bonnie, the Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation, will appear live, and so will Dame Karen Pierce, the British Ambassador to the United States. This high-profile session takes place on Thursday and will provide updates on the business climate of the cattle and beef industry, conservation, and trade. “We’re thrilled to have Secretary Vilsack and Undersecretary Bonnie joining us at the convention,” says NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. “We take pride in our working relationship with the USDA.” Lane says they’re also pleased that Pierce will be joining the group  because increased access to global markets is a key tool for increasing profitability and opportunity for cattle producers across the country.”

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U.S. Customs Seizes Prohibited Meat at the Mexican Border

Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that their agriculture specialists seized prohibited meat products at the U.S.-Mexico border. Customs agents seized 243 pounds of prohibited pork bologna in two separate and unrelated incidents. “Pork products have the potential to introduce foreign animal diseases that can have devastating effects on the U.S. economy and agricultural industry,” says Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha. Officials seized 55 pounds of pork products on January 13 and another 188 pounds of bologna on January 21. The El-Paso Herald-Post says both the USDA and Department of Homeland Security are working to protect American agriculture against the introduction of pests and diseases at our nation’s ports of entry. Officials add that undeclared, prohibited agriculture items will get confiscated and can result in a large civil penalty for failure to declare at the border. The bologna was seized and destroyed by CBP agents per USDA regulations.  

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By Tucker 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.