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National Ag News for April 21, 2022

Biden Administration Launches Rural Partners Network

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced the launch of the Biden administration’s Rural Partners Network. Led by USDA, the network will help rural communities access government resources and funding to create jobs, build infrastructure and support long-term economic stability. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “The Rural Partners Network will help communities get funding for investments that create long-lasting benefits for their communities, especially those that have been overlooked in the past.” The Rural Partners Network is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between federal agencies and local leaders and residents. The network is focused on improving social and economic well-being bolstered by existing local partnerships and assets, according to USDA. The network will launch in selected communities in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, as well as certain Tribes within Arizona. Community networks within these states will receive individualized support with the expertise to navigate federal programs, build relationships and identify additional resources to promote community-driven solutions.

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Lawmakers Urging Supreme Court to Adopt Limited WOTUS Rule

A group of lawmakers jointly filed an amicus brief supporting the petitioners in the pending U.S. Supreme Court case Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency. The decision in the case will clarify what waterways are considered “waters of the United States,” or WOTUS, which will determine the scope of the federal government’s authority in regulating private citizens and businesses under the Clean Water Act. Specifically, the brief argues that the Supreme Court should adopt a longstanding, limited-scope definition of WOTUS proposed by Justice Antonin Scalia in a 2006 case. Senate Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa helped lead the effort. Grassley and the lawmakers say, “we support policies that protect the environment while also ensuring that States retain their traditional role as the primary regulators of land and water resources.” Grassley adds, “This case presents an opportunity for the Court to finally put the genie back in the bottle.” More than 100 U.S. Representatives also signed the brief.

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AFBF: NEPA Changes Signal Return to Outdated, Cumbersome Regulations

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented Wednesday on the final phase 1 revisions to the National Environmental Policy Act, known as NEPA. Duvall says, “AFBF is disappointed that the Biden administration has decided to reverse commonsense reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act.” AFBF says farmers and ranchers share the goal of caring for the natural resources they’ve been entrusted with and were pleased that the updated 2020 regulations allowed them to protect the environment while meeting the demands of a growing nation. However, continued challenges from the pandemic, supply chain issues and the drought in the West are impacting farmers and the American public with increased food and fuel prices. Duvall says, “The situation will now be made worse by the return to a slow and cumbersome NEPA review process that, in many cases, takes years to complete.” The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Public Lands Council expressed similar disappointment over the action earlier this week.

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FFAR & NPB Focus on Continuous Air Quality Improvement Efforts

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, partnering with the National Pork Board, announced the Improving Swine Production Air Quality Program Wednesday. The program dedicates $1 million in grant funding to develop objective measures for key air quality components and concentrations in and within 500 meters of swine production facilities. Using objective methods and metrics assessing air quality is critical for understanding the source of swine production particulates and developing continuous improvement efforts. However, existing air quality measurements are subject to bias, preventing the development of effective strategies to improve air quality. Swine production air quality studies reveal that researchers unintentionally introduce bias in a variety of ways, clouding efforts to understand the challenges and opportunities. This new research program aims to develop a scientifically valid assessment of particulate levels inside and immediately outside of swine facilities. NPB’s Heather Fowler says, “Projects such as this will allow us to continue to measure where we are today and look for areas of continuous improvement in the future.”  

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USGC Releases 2021/2022 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report

The U.S. Grains Council Wednesday released its 2021/2022 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report. The report shows the average aggregate quality of U.S. corn samples tested was better than or equal to U.S. No. 2 on all grade factors. The report is based on 430 export cargo samples collected from corn shipments undergoing federal inspection and grading processes at export terminals. It also provides information on grading, handling and how U.S. corn is moved and controlled through export channels. Average test weight found by the analysis was higher than in 2020/2021 and the five-year average, with nearly 99.8 percent of samples at or above the minimum requirements for U.S. No. 1 grade corn, indicating overall good quality. Chemical composition indicated protein concentration higher than 2020/2021 and the five-year average with lower starch and higher oil concentrations than the previous year. All but two export samples tested below the U.S. Food and Drug Administration action level for aflatoxins.

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Illinois Governor Signs Biodiesel Use Bill into Law

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker this week signed into law a bill that incentivizes increasing blends of biodiesel. The bill extends the current B10 sales tax exemption until 2023 and then increases the biodiesel blend level subject to the tax exemption to B13 in 2024, B15 in 2025 and B19 in 2026 in the state. Clean Fuels CEO Donnell Rehagen applauded the effort, saying the legislation “will expand that demand and solidify Illinois as a leading source and user of better, cleaner biodiesel.” Illinois is currently fourth among all states in biodiesel production and third in consumption, with 160 million gallons consumed annually. The legislation was spearheaded and guided through the legislative process by the Illinois Soybean Association with support from Clean Fuels Alliance America and several of its member companies, including REG and ADM. The organizations cite a recent study that found in Chicago, switching to B100 would decrease diesel particular matter-related cancer risks by up to nearly 1,600 cases.

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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.

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