National Ag News for June 23, 2022

Biden Proposes Federal Gas Tax Holiday

President Joe Biden Wednesday called on Congress and states to provide direct relief to consumers facing increased gas and diesel prices. The price of gas is up dramatically around the world, and by almost $2 per gallon in America, the White House says, “since Putin began amassing troops on the border of Ukraine.” The federal government charges an 18-cent tax per gallon of gasoline and a 24-cent tax per gallon of diesel. Those taxes fund highways and public transportation, through the Highway Trust Fund. But with gas prices near $5 a gallon on average across the country, President Biden is calling on Congress to suspend the gas tax for three months – until the end of September – to give Americans a little extra breathing room as they “deal with the effects of Putin’s war in Ukraine.” The President is also calling on Congress to ensure that a gas tax holiday has no negative effect on the Highway Trust Fund.

Senate Ag Committee Passes Meat Packing Special Investigator Act

The Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday passed the bipartisan Meat Packing Special Investigator Act. The legislation will address anticompetitive practices in the meat and poultry industries. Senator Chuck Grassley says, “With the passage of this bill, my years-long beef with Big Cattle is one step closer to being settled.” The legislation would create the Office of the Special Investigator for Competition Matters within USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Division. The special investigator will have a team of investigators, with subpoena power, dedicated to preventing and addressing anticompetitive practices in the meat and poultry industries and enforcing antitrust laws. The committee also passed the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane responded, “creating a duplicative, bureaucratic new special investigator role is the wrong approach.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says the committee action “is a welcome move towards boosting enforcement of competition laws that get to the bottom of abusive market practices.”

Dairy Farmer Calls for FMMO Update During Farm Bill Hearing

A dairy farmer told lawmakers this week the next farm bill needs milk pricing improvements. Seventh-generation Pennsylvania dairy farmer Lolly Lesher, a member of Dairy Farmers of America, testified on behalf of the cooperative and the National Milk Producers Federation during a congressional review of dairy provisions in the Farm Bill. Lesher highlighted the need for improvements to the Federal Milk Marketing Order system, as evidenced by the heavy revenue losses incurred by dairy farmers nationwide from a milk pricing change made in the previous farm bill. She says, “The change made to the Class I mover combined with the government’s heavy cheese purchases cost dairy farmers over $750 million in revenue in the last six months of 2020 alone.” The dairy industry is seeking consensus on a range of FMMO improvements, including the Class I mover, that can be taken to USDA for consideration in a federal order hearing.

NPPC Welcomes Biden Administration Siding with Farmers on Prop 12

The National Pork Producers Council welcomed a Supreme Court brief filed by the Biden administration in favor of ag groups regarding California’s Proposition 12. The state law seeks to ban the sale of pork from pigs that do not meet the state’s arbitrary production standards, including pork from pigs raised on farms outside of California. NPPC assistant vice president and general counsel Michael Formica says, “We commend the Biden administration for taking action to stop ill-considered ballot initiatives like California’s Proposition 12.” In a joint brief to the Supreme Court filed earlier this month, NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation argued Proposition 12 violates the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause, which restricts states from regulating commerce outside their borders. The brief states that Proposition 12 “will require massive and costly changes across the entire $26-billion-a-year hog farming industry. And it inescapably projects California’s policy choices into every other state, a number of which expressly permit their farmers to house sows in ways inconsistent with Proposition 12.”

Clean Fuels Outlines Industry’s Beneficial Impact on Fuel Prices

Clean Fuels Alliance America Wednesday touted the benefits of biodiesel when it comes to the price at the pump to President Joe Biden and leaders in Congress. In a letter to the president and lawmakers, the organization says U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel producers are working to extend fuel supplies and provide relief at the pump to American families. The letter expresses appreciation for the administration’s recent actions to grow Renewable Fuel Standard volumes for advanced biofuels and biomass-based diesel and provide additional infrastructure grants to improve consumer access to biodiesel. The letter states, “Our partners in the agriculture industry are investing more than $4 billion to expand the supply of renewable oils for both food and clean fuels.” The letter further highlights a recent study from the World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Service showing that U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel production generates a four percent decrease in the price of diesel fuel.

Honey Imports Continue to Rise, Offsetting Declining U.S. Production

U.S. imports of honey continue to rise as U.S. production declines. New data from USDA Economic Research Service shows imports have exceeded domestic honey production since 2005 and accounted for 74 percent of total U.S. honey supplies in 2021. Over the last 30 years, U.S. honey production has declined by around 1.4 percent per year, while honey imports have grown by 7.6 percent per year, filling the domestic supply deficit. The top three foreign suppliers—India, Vietnam, and Argentina—supply more than 71 percent of imported honey. Honey imports have expanded with rising domestic consumption of honey and honey-sweetened products. This expansion reached an all-time high in 2021, when domestic production was at the lowest volume since 1991. In 2021, production in all three major honey-producing States—North Dakota, South Dakota, and California—were 25 percent lower than their 1991 levels, while production in the rest of the states declined by almost half during the same period.


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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