National Ag News for January 11, 2023

Vilsack: No Compromise with Mexico on GMO Corn

After a speech at the American Farm Bureau’s annual convention, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said there will be no compromise when it comes to the Mexican corn situation. The U.S. won’t back down or compromise on its stance against Mexico’s plan to ban imports of genetically modified yellow corn. Vilsack says the American government is supposed to reply by January 15 to Mexico’s proposal to delay the ban until 2025. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has spoken to her Mexican counterpart about the dispute. Speaking to reporters at the AFBF convention, Vilsack said that if Mexico doesn’t agree to withdraw its import ban, the White House will then push the USMCA on trade rules. Vilsack told Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador that he won’t be able to find enough non-GMO corn to import and feed the country’s livestock sector. The larger issue is about a trading system with “less friction,” not more friction.

Major U.S. Ag Groups Testify on Proposed 2023-2025 RVOs

The Environmental Protection Agency held a virtual public hearing this week on its proposed Renewable Volume Obligation blending requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2023-2025. A number of the nation’s leading agriculture organizations and supporters testified during the hearing. Tom Haag, President of the National Corn Growers Association, said during testimony that they support the growth trajectory in the EPA proposal, but biofuels can contribute even more. Geoff Cooper of the Renewable Fuels Association says, “The proposed ‘Set” rule establishes a firm foundation for the future of the RFS and creates a pathway to sustainable growth in the use of low-carbon fuels.” Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, says they appreciate EPA’s commitment to setting a multiyear RVO, curtailing Small Refiner Exemptions, and establishing reasonable growth across all categories of biofuels. “However, EPA left some tools on the shelf for promoting innovation in cellulosic biofuel,” Coleman said.

Biodiesel Group Unhappy with EPA Proposal on RVOs

Clean Fuels Alliance America members testified during the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Public Hearing on RFS Standards for 2023-2025 and Other Changes.” Staff members expressed frustration with the proposed volumes for biomass-based diesel because they don’t match the volumes that are already in the market and don’t account for expected growth in capacity and feedstocks. “This proposed rule significantly undercounts existing biomass-based diesel production and fails to provide growth for investments the industry has already made in additional capacity, including for sustainable aviation fuel,” Clean Fuels CEO Donnell Rehagen said during testimony. “Clean Fuels is once again frustrated that EPA has the wherewithal needed to determine current production, the knowledge of the investments being made, and the resources to accurately determine feedstock availability, and yet proposes a no-growth scenario,” says Kurt Kovarik, Vice President of Federal Affairs. Rehagen also said EPA committed to promoting homegrown fuels but failed to follow through.

Farm Bureau Recognizes Young Farmer and Rancher Competition Winners

The American Farm Bureau Federation recognized the winners of the Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award, Discussion Meet, and Excellence in Agriculture Competitions. Young farmers and ranchers competed for the awards by demonstrating knowledge, achievement, and commitment to promoting agriculture. Daniel and Carla Trantham of Alabama won the Achievement Award, which recognizes young farmers and ranchers excelling in their farming and ranching operations and exhibiting superior leadership abilities. Mike Hannewald of Ohio won the Discussion Meet, which simulates a committee meeting in which active participation is required. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic. Stacie Anderson of Ohio won the Excellence in Agriculture Award, which recognizes young farmers and ranchers who don’t derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, leadership ability, and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

NCC Releases Most Comprehensive Guidelines for Poultry Care

The National Chicken Council developed the NCC Broiler Welfare Guidelines and Audit Checklist in 1999. The goal was to help poultry producers show consumers that all of the birds were being treated with respect and properly cared for during their lives. NCC recently published its 2023 update of the NCC Broiler Welfare Guidelines, which are more robust than ever before and include new parameters to improve bird welfare. The new guidelines include identifying Key Welfare Indicators like paw/footpad health, gait scoring, effective processing parameters, and minimizing leg and wing injuries. It also includes whistleblower protection, an additional focus on training programs for proper handling, a more streamlined tool for ease of auditing, and an increased focus on bird behavior, objective measures, and welfare outcomes. “With this certification, consumers can feel confident that when buying and eating chicken, the birds were well-cared for,” says Dr. Ashley Peterson, senior VP of scientific and regulatory affairs.

************************************************************************************             Center Hosts Thai Retailers and Marketers to Boost Exports

A group of six cheese retailers and cheese marketing specialists from Thailand will visit the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin in Madison on January 18-20. It’s part of a two-week program to learn about gourmet cheeses. The program, funded through a Cochran Fellowship Program Grant from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, will also involve visiting dairy farms, cheese factories, specialty cheese shops, large retail grocery chains, restaurants, and bars. The visit focuses on training and networking, helping the Thai build relationships with manufacturers, companies, distributors, and government partners. The overall objective of the program is to ultimately expand U.S. cheese exports to Thailand. Some of the activities at the Center include cheese tastings and evaluations, demonstrating activities like Swiss cheese and specialty/artisan cheese making, and lectures on the basics of cheese science and the cheesemaking process. The proposal and itinerary for the visit were first announced in February 2022.


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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