READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, November 29th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, November 29th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farm Bill Inching Closer to Reality

A farm bill agreement could be announced yet this week. Leadership of the farm bill conference committee reports a deal is close, with a possible announcement this week and a more detailed announcement to follow next week, according to staffers close to the negotiations. A move towards an agreement would set the stage to allow Congress to consider final passage of the bill this year. Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts says a full agreement depends on the cost analysis. There is little time in the lame duck session to complete the bill, as lawmakers are scheduled to exit Washington by mid-December. Still, all sides appear committed to finishing the bill this year, ahead of a new Congress that offers a change of control in the House of Representatives. Collin Peterson, incoming chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has previously said he wants the bill done now, before the next Congress, which would likely require a rewrite of the legislation.

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Western Caucus Members Urge Adoption of Active Forest Management

Members of the Congressional Western Caucus issued a statement condemning obstruction of active fire management policies by Senate Democrats. The statement says the 2018 deadly and destructive wildfire season has further solidified the need for active forest management provisions found in the House-passed farm bill. The group sent a letter to the farm bill conference committee urging the inclusion. However, farm bill conference committee members reported Wednesday afternoon that leadership decided against any sweeping forestry title reforms, which has been the latest hold up in the farm bill debate. More than 52,000 wildfires have burned more than 8.5 million acres this year alone. The caucus, currently comprised of all Republicans, is open to all political parties. Opposition to the House plan has said that active forest management could “devastate forests” and “wipe out plants and animals.”

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EPA Rejects Requests to Reallocate Displaced RFS Gallons

The Environmental Protection Agency will not reallocate waived biofuel volumes in 2019. The agency denied a request by the corn and ethanol industries to reallocate any biofuel volumes lost to small refinery waivers next year, according to Reuters. Expansion of the waivers, which were unused under the Bush and Obama administrations, threatens demand for corn and corn-based ethanol. The Renewable Fuel Standard requires oil refiners to blend biofuels each year or purchase blending credits. However, the small refiner waivers exempt any refinery that proves complying with the RFS causes them financial strain. The corn industry points out that some of the world’s largest oil companies have received waivers from the Trump administration. Meanwhile, an EPA official this week also said that the 2019 annual biofuel mandate figures were set to be largely in line with the agency’s June proposal of 19.88 billion gallons.

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Trade Groups Ask Trump to Ensure Review of Argentine Biodiesel Import Duties

Trade groups are expressing concern that the U.S. Department of Commerce has initiated “changed circumstances” reviews of U.S. trade duties on Argentine biodiesel companies. In a letter to President Trump, the groups, including the National Biodiesel Board, urged the president to ensure the Commerce Department undertake a “rigorous, comprehensive and transparent review” before considering any adjustment to the duty rates it established earlier this year. The Department imposed antidumping and countervailing duty orders in January and April 2018, following investigations in which the government found that biodiesel imports from Argentina were massively subsidized and dumped, injuring U.S. biodiesel producers. The letter states that any political concessions to Argentina would “distort U.S. markets and undercut crop prices that are only now regaining stability.” The groups opposed the initiation of the changed circumstances review, arguing the Commerce Department has well-established administrative review procedures for revisiting antidumping and countervailing duty rates.

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USDA Announces Investments in Rural Community Facilities

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced a $291 million investment to improve rural community infrastructure and essential services. Announced by Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett, the funding will improve rural communities for 761,000 residents in 18 states and Puerto Rico. USDA is investing in 41 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. The funding helps rural small towns, cities and communities make infrastructure improvements and provide essential facilities such as schools, libraries, courthouses, public safety facilities, hospitals, colleges and daycare centers. Hazlett says of the projects that “modern community facilities and infrastructure are key drivers of rural prosperity.” For more information and a list of projects funded, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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California Farm Bureau Launches Disaster Relief Fund

To assist farmers, ranchers and rural communities hurt by wildfires, floods and other natural disasters, the California Farm Bureau Federation has established a Farm and Rural Disaster Fund. Created under the California Bountiful Foundation-a charitable foundation established by the California Farm Bureau, the fund will collect contributions to aid communities affected by natural disasters. California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson says the fund comes at the request of state Farm Bureau members to “provide aid to farms, ranches and rural communities that have suffered losses.” In addition, county Farm Bureaus in the state have begun relief efforts specific to the Camp Fire that continues to burn. The fund will accept donations dedicated to feeding, housing and maintaining livestock displaced by the fire that are being cared for at the county fairgrounds. Learn more about both efforts at CFBF.com.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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