READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, March 20th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, March 20th

House Democrats Want to Review Farm Bill Draft

Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee have asked ranking member Collin Peterson to stop negotiating on the farm bill until Chairman Mike Conaway releases the bill to the full committee. Roll Call reports Peterson is heeding the request, and says the move “will give the members information about what is actually being proposed.” The proposed farm bill reportedly included many changes and cuts to the nutrition title, and Democrats “unanimously oppose” the changes described to them and reported in the press,” according to Peterson. Committee Democrats question the changes, stating: “At no point during the committee’s 23 hearings on SNAP was there testimony in favor of radical reforms to SNAP.” Chairman Conaway had hoped to begin markup on the farm bill in committee this month. As others have pointed out, The proposed farm bill seems similar to the current farm bill, which originally included changes to the nutrition title, but failed to pass a vote in the House.

Midwest Senators Write Trump Opposing any RIN Waiver Cap

A group of Midwest Senators is urging President Trump to oppose capping Renewable Identification Numbers, or RIN prices, as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, along with Deb Fischer of Nebraska, John Thune of South Dakota, and Missouri’s Roy Blunt signed a letter of opposition to RIN caps. The letter states that a waiver cap for RIN prices would prohibit President Trump from ‘honoring his commitment’ to a 15 billion gallon RFS. The group says a waiver cap is designed to abruptly drive down the price of RINs by reducing the amount of biofuel produced. The lawmakers suggest an alternative to reducing RIN prices, in E15 sales. The letter says that by allowing year-round sales nationwide of E15, ethanol production would increase, and lower RIN prices. The lawmakers are seeking a meeting with President Trump to discuss “the harm a RIN waiver cap would impose” on U.S. agriculture.

EU, U.S., to Talk Tariff Exemption

The European Union and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are meeting in Washington, D.C. this week to consider a potential tariff exemption. The EU is exploring an exemption from President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, according to Politico. The EU is seeking “more clarity” on the criteria on which such an exemption could be granted. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has named five criteria for a potential exclusion from the tariffs, but EU diplomats have criticized them on the basis that they have been left purposely vague. Any EU exemption to the tariffs must be finalized by Thursday, at the latest, as the tariffs take effect Friday. Last week, the EU made public its retaliation targets, which include U.S. rice, cranberries, peanut butter and products from cotton, along with bourbon and U.S. motorcycles. Absent from the list, for now, is dairy products, which were expected from federal lawmakers in Wisconsin. The EU list is far from final, however, as a comment period is open to allow the EU to gather further target suggestions.

House Committee Seeking Reauthorization of Animal Drug Legislation

Lawmakers are seeking to renew the Animal Drug User Fee Act and the Animal Generic Drug User Fee Amendments, set to expire later this year. Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health discussed reauthorization of the regulations that expires September 30th. Both grant the Food and Drug Administration permission to collect fees from the makers of new animal drugs, including generic animal drugs, which are used to support the agency’s approval and market introduction programs. The National Pork Producers Council supports the reauthorization effort, as the group says both are crucial for ensuring that animal health, human health and food safety are protected. Failure to renew the laws by the deadline, according to NPPC, will result in a major disruption for the livestock production industry. Senate and House bipartisan draft reauthorization legislation includes a requirement that all requests for new animal drugs be submitted electronically beginning October first.

Kansas Seeks Emergency Grazing, Haying

Growing drought concerns have prompted federal lawmakers from Kansas to seek emergency grazing and haying regulations. Republican Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, along with Senator Jerry Moran and Congressman Roger Marshall, last week penned a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue seeking emergency haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program lands due to severe drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated more than 24 Kansas counties primary natural disaster areas, and the state has given a drought declaration to all 105 counties in Kansas. The U.S. Drought Monitor last week found extreme drought conditions cover almost 20 percent of the state with severe drought covering 56 percent and moderate drought covering an additional 26 percent. Beyond Kansas, nearly all of the Southwestern U.S. is classified in some form of drought by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Colombia Increases Ethanol Mandate to 10 Percent

The Colombian government increased its national blend mandate for ethanol to E10 as of the beginning of this month. Government officials in Colombia say sugar prices dropped considerably in early 2018, encouraging the production of ethanol, which led to the mandated increase. Colombia has a growing domestic ethanol industry, producing sugar-based ethanol. Additionally, U.S. ethanol enters Colombia duty-free per the terms of the U.S.–Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, but the government’s current low-carbon fuel standard discriminates against corn-based ethanol. Still, some U.S. refineries can meet the greenhouse gas emission reductions required in the standard. A spokesperson for the U.S. Grains Council says the organization is working with Colombia to ensure the country’s biofuels policies “allow for a competitive market while also complying with the government’s GHG reduction goals.” Colombia set a new record for U.S. ethanol imports in 2016-2017, purchasing more than 13 million gallons. Imports in the current marketing year have more than doubled year-over-year to 9.62 million gallons.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service