National Ag News for April 21, 2023

U.S. Government Planning Year-Round Sales of E15 Next Year

The Biden administration is planning to begin year-round sales of E15 in 2024. Oil Price Dot Com says the Environmental Protection Agency feels the move will help reduce the retail price of fuel. Eight Midwestern states originally asked the EPA for waivers to provide E15 fuel this summer. EPA chief Michael Regan says the agency studied if they could make the change this year but decided there wasn’t enough time to allow for final adequate rule-making. Regan told the House Agriculture Committee that the agency will look into issuing temporary emergency waivers to allow sales of E15 this summer. The EPA proposed a rule in March that would allow year-round sales of E15 beginning in 2024. “There would be a significant disruption to consumer pricing and the like if we moved too quickly in 2023,” Regan says. “We are confident year-round E15 sales will be ready to go in 2024.

Oklahoma Signs Trade Pact with the UK

British Trade Minister Nigel Huddleston signed a trade deal with the state of Oklahoma during a recent trip to Washington, D.C. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt says the pact will focus on increasing trade through wider economic development on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It will also maintain a focus on reliable and affordable energy. As Oklahoma and the UK grow their economies through increased trade and development cooperation, that will strengthen businesses and create jobs on each side. The agreement will also allow the sides expand academic and research ties, as well as together in agriculture and food production. “Both the United Kingdom and Oklahoma share the same vision for providing reliable, affordable energy for our citizens,” Stitt says. “We can learn a lot from each other.” After the signing, Huddleston said, “I’m delighted that we’ve taken an important step forward in deepening our commercial and economic ties with Oklahoma.”

U.S. Dairy Leading on Climate Coalition

The National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council have signed a set of principles and a new partnership with National Agricultural Organizations from several other countries. The goal is to constructively engage governments and international organizations around the world on the issues of livestock, agriculture, climate, and trade. The countries in the new partnership include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Colombia. USDEC and the NMPF will coordinate and support engagements with government officials and international organizations in promoting policies that encourage sustainable productivity growth while taking into consideration the unique needs of the livestock industry as well as profitability for farmers. The U.S dairy groups point out that, “Far too often, global convenings and climate proposals reflect ideologies at the expense of science, ignore any progress that the industry already made in reducing emissions, and try to impose one-size-fits-all solutions on industries they don’t fully understand.”  

Smithfield Foods Wins Environmental and Safety Awards

The North American Meat Institute recently held its 2022 environmental awards and worker safety recognition programs. Smithfield Foods won awards for its environmental and safety achievements. “Protecting the environment, including decreasing our carbon footprint, implementing water conservation strategies, and reducing packaging have all been Smithfield priorities for decades,” says Stewart Leeth, chief sustainability officer for Smithfield. “These priorities are all part of our constant commitment to producing good food the right way.” Five Smithfield facilities were recognized with NAMI’s environmental recognition awards, which acknowledge commitment to continuous environmental improvement through the development and implementation of Environmental Management Systems. Forty of the company’s facilities were recognized with Tier 4 awards, the highest recognition in the category. Also, 29 Smithfield locations earned the organization’s highest worker safety recognition awards. Smithfield earned an honorable mention in the DEI category for its industry-leading programs that attract and retain minority and underrepresented employees and customers.

Legislation to Improve Flexibility of Farmland Conservation Program

Senators Michael Bennett of Colorado and Roger Marshall of Kansas introduced the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Improvement Act. The bill would provide the flexibility family farmers and ranchers need to conserve water on working lands while fairly compensating them for retiring their water rights or limiting their water use. “With the CREP Improvement Act, we can give farmers the flexibility they need to conserve their water supply and pass their operations to their kids and grandkids,” Bennett says. The act would improve the CREP program in several ways, including directing USDA to allow dryland agricultural uses on CREP acreage where appropriate. Other improvements include specifically adding dryland crop production and grazing to the list of appropriate conservation practices for the CREP program. “Time and again, we hear USDA is being too rigid in their interpretation of good programs, and this bill will help give farmers and ranchers more flexibility,” Marshall says.

Iowa Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Raw Milk Sales

It’s taken years, but the Iowa Legislature gave its final approval on a bill that would allow Iowa residents to buy fresh-from-the-farm raw milk. After several failed attempts, the state Senate approved the final bill 37-13 and sent it to Governor Kim Reynolds for her signature. The bill previously passed the Iowa House with amendments. It allows producers to sell unpasteurized milk from their farms directly to Iowa residents, as well as cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and other raw milk products. “I call it the fresh milk bill,” says Senator Jason Schultz, the bill’s manager on the Senate floor. He told the Des Moines Register that he’s waited 17 years for a raw milk bill to get through the Iowa legislature. The bill’s supporters say raw milk tastes better and has more nutrients. Opponents say it can contain bacteria that are dangerous to children and could spark a public health outbreak.


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.