READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, August 20th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, August 20th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Judge Overturns WOTUS Delay; Now Law In 26 States

A district court judge in South Carolina overturned the Trump Administration’s attempt to delay implementation of the “Waters of the U.S. Rule,” or WOTUS. The Hill Dot Com says the Obama-era rule is immediately law in 26 states as the judge’s ruling put an exemption on the administration’s suspension rule. The U.S. District Court in South Carolina decided the Environmental Protection Agency did not follow rule-making procedures in suspending WOTUS implementation. The judge says EPA did not give an adequate public notice and comment period as stipulated by the Administrative Procedures Act. The court wrote in its decision that, “As administrations change, so do their priorities. But the requirements of the APA remain the same. The Court finds that the government failed to comply with these requirements in implementing the suspension rule.” A federal judge had previously granted the other 24 states the ability to get out of WOTUS regulations. Environmental groups like the Sierra Club hailed the decision as a victory for communities across the country. The EPA says it will look at the order before determining its next steps.

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Ag Groups Say “Ditch the Rule”

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall responded to a South Carolina judge overturning the suspension of the “Waters of the U.S.” rule on Thursday. He says because of the misguided ruling by a single federal district court, the overbroad, vague, and illegal 2015 Waters of the U.S. Rule is now the law of the land in 26 states. “To avoid widespread uncertainty and potential enforcement against ordinary farming activities in already uncertain times, we call on the administration to take steps to limit the impact of this dangerous court decision,” Duvall says. “The U.S. District Court in South Carolina was wrong to invade the agency’s ‘applicability rule’ that had simply delayed the effective date of WOTUS.” Duvall says the delay rule would have maintained regulatory certainty and stability while the administration completes its reconsideration of the rule and develops a new regulation to provide both clean water and clear rules. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Environmental Counsel Scott Yager was also unhappy with the ruling. “The ruling underscores the need to finalize the repeal of the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule,’ Yager says. “The court effectively brought WOTUS back from the dead, creating a zombie version of the rule that threatens the rights of farmers and ranchers across the country.”

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Bayer/Monsanto Merger Clears All Hurdles

It’s taken months of divesting, negotiating, and waiting, but Bayer and Monsanto will complete their merger. An Ag Web Dot Com article notes German-based Bayer can now officially begin integrating Monsanto after Bayer divested itself of certain Crop Science businesses in a sale to BASF. The name Monsanto is expected to officially disappear in the future. However, familiar brand names like Dekalb, Asgrow, and Channel are expected to remain after the merger is complete. Bayer became Monsanto’s sole shareholder back in June, but the merger couldn’t officially take place until Bayer completed the sale of certain assets to BASF. Some of the divestments included Bayer’s field crops business, vegetable seed business, a digital platform, and other assets. The U.S. Justice Department required the divestments be completed before the merger was allowed to officially begin. Prior to completing the sale of assets to BASF, Bayer didn’t have access to Monsanto’s information. The company says with the integration, it “gains the ability to become actively involved in defense efforts at glyphosate trials and any other legal disputes, such as potential claims for damages in connection with dicamba.”

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Ag Lenders Worried About Farmers

Depressed commodity prices, poor weather, and trade war ramifications aren’t just worrying for the nation’s farmers. The second quarter Agriculture Credit Conditions Survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis says ag bankers are worried as well. The report, which covers April through June, says farm income, spending on capital equipment, and household purchases all decreased. Nearly half of the lenders located within the Fed district, which stretches from Wisconsin through Montana, reported a decrease in farm income. Only eight percent reported an increase in farm income. Wisconsin, one of the nation’s most prominent dairy states, has the highest number of lenders reporting falling incomes, coming in at 71 percent. Lower incomes did slightly hurt the rate of loan repayments. Survey respondents also said cropland values increased somewhat. About half of the survey respondents are also predicting that conditions will worsen further by the time the third quarter of 2018 rolls around.

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Growth Energy Comments on Proposed 2019 RVO Targets

Growth Energy submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency on the last day of the comment period on the agency’s proposed 2019 renewable volume obligation (RVO) targets. Growth Energy is asking the EPA to make the proposed numbers real by accounting for lost gallons which were caused by small refinery exemptions and reallocating those gallons to other refineries to fulfill the target RVO. The organization is once again asking the EPA for Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) relief for rural America to allow the sale of higher-octane blends like E15 year-round. That would help boost domestic market demand for ethanol and help lower fuel prices for consumers. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the targets appear to be a strong proposal with a 15 billion gallon commitment to starch ethanol and a significant increase in cellulosic biofuels. “However, the proposed RVO has failed to account for the 2.25 billion gallons lost due to small refinery exemptions,” Skor says. “By failing to account for these exemptions, EPA has made the numbers hollow by turning the clock back on the Renewable Fuels Standard by five years.”    

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Trump: “Farmers Are Doing Well”

President Trump spoke recently during a Cabinet meeting at the White House, saying farmers are starting to prosper. However, a Bloomberg article says the numbers tell a different story. “I hear they’re starting to do well in spite of everything,” the President said during comments from the meeting. “They’re selling corn, they’re selling soybeans, they’re selling everything, at levels that are soon going to be pretty good levels.” Benchmark soybean futures are down 14 percent since China first proposed putting tariffs on American imports back in April. China followed through on that threat in July. The Bloomberg Agricultural Sub-Index, which is made up of corn, soybeans, and other major farm products, hasn’t recovered from the record-low it set in July. The Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer sank last month. The USDA is projecting net farm income to total $59.5 billion, the lowest number since 2006. The administration says it will offer $12 billion in aid to farmers who’ve been hurt by the trade conflict. “They attacked our farmers by not buying from our farmers,” Trump says. “They know the farmers like Trump and I like them. I love them.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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