READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, October 7th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, October 7th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

EPA, USDA Agree on RFS “Fix”

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and Andrew Wheeler, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, agreed on a plan to boost renewable fuel production and improve the Renewable Fuels Standard. Perdue says this agreement builds on the success of the year-round E15 rule. “This forward-looking agreement makes improvements to the RFS program that will better harness the production of our farmers and ensure America remains energy dominant,” Perdue says. Both agencies will take a series of steps to help boost biofuels. The EPA will propose and request public comment on expanding biofuel requirements beginning in 2020. EPA will seek comment on its actions to ensure that more than 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol will be blended into the nation’s fuel supply beginning next year. They also will ensure that the volume obligation for biomass-based diesel will be met. EPA will also include accounting for relief expected to be provided for small refineries through RFS waivers. Building on year-round E15, EPA will initiate a rulemaking process to streamline labeling and remove other barriers to the sale of E15. EPA will also evaluate options for RIN market transparency and reform. USDA will look for opportunities for infrastructure projects to help facilitate higher biofuel blends. The administration will continue to work to address ethanol and biodiesel trade issues.

**********************************************************************************************  

Ag Groups Respond to Biofuel Announcement

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor was pleased with the White House announcement that President Trump will uphold the integrity of the Renewable Fuels Standard. “It’s been a long process,” she said, “but when the chips were down, the president delivered for farm families and biofuels producers.” The National Corn Growers Association says the announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency will reopen the rulemaking for the 2020 RFS volumes and propose to account for waivers in volume requirements allows the EPA to follow the law and restore integrity to the RFS. NCGA President Kevin Ross says the announcement, “Gets the RFS back on track.” The National Biodiesel Board says nine producers from across the country closed their doors or reduced operations and laid off more than 200 employees. The NBB says this announcement is the first step in reversing the loss of production and restoring those jobs. NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik says, “The biodiesel industry relies on the RFS program to support continued growth and market development. While the proposal addresses the lost gallons from future RFS exemptions, it doesn’t provide for additional volumes of biomass-based diesel in 2021.”

**********************************************************************************************

U.S. Trade Deficit Narrow with China

The United States’ trade deficit with China is as small as it’s been in recent months. U.S. exports hit a five-month high, which Bloomberg says is a possible sign of goodwill from China as the two nations continue to try and resolve their trade war. According to data released late last week by the Commerce Department, the trade gap shrank to a seasonally adjusted $28.9 billion. Exports increased by $10 billion while imports dropped slightly to $38.9 billion. Even with the new numbers, imports and exports with China have declined significantly since the trade war began in 2018. China is now the third-largest U.S. trading partner this year, behind Mexico and Canada, after it was number one in 2018. So far this year, the U.S. merchandise deficit with China narrowed to a seasonally adjusted $238.4 billion over the first eight months of this year, compared to $270.1 billion through the same period in 2018. Since the end of August, the trade war has continued to escalate as additional duties went into effect on September 1. Others are set to rise or take effect on October 15 and December 15. Chinese officials are scheduled to visit Washington, D.C., for more trade talks this week.

**********************************************************************************************

THC Testing Still a Challenge for Hemp Farmers

The hype over hemp sparked a rush of enthusiasm from farmers looking to add it to their crop rotations after it was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill. Stuck in a declining farm economy, Politico says hemp offers a new source of income for farmers who’ve been hit from all sides by a trade war with China, a stretched-out cycle of low commodity prices, as well as a series of natural disasters. The potential of an economic payday is calling a lot of farmers to try to grow the crop for the first time. However, legalizing hemp has been far from a smooth ride. Farmers have had a series of challenges as they continue to figure out the hemp process from growing to harvesting to selling the crop. One of the biggest complications involves the THC levels, which growers have to keep a close eye on to make sure it doesn’t climb above .3 percent. That’s the legal threshold that technically classifies the crop as marijuana, a cannabis cousin of hemp. Measuring THC is a patchwork procedure between states. USDA is under pressure to overwrite that patchwork with a national standard on THC testing.

**********************************************************************************************

European Union Reacts to New Trump Tariffs

European leaders and businesspeople slammed the Trump Administration’s plans to impose large tariffs on a wide array of European goods. The tariffs are going in place after the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of the U.S. in a longstanding dispute over subsidies given to Airbus, a European aircraft manufacturer. The administration is set to impose tariffs on roughly $7.5 billion in European goods, pending WTO approval. The Washington Post says goods facing a higher duty include Italian cheeses and one of Trump’s favorite targets, French wine. The tariffs will be as high as 25 percent on agricultural and industrial products and could take effect as soon as October 18. The director of Europe’s largest wine and spirits lobby says the retaliatory U.S. tariffs will hit industries that aren’t related to the core of the dispute, which is airline subsidies. The EU’s top trade official, Cecilia Malmstrom, says regardless of the WTO ruling, she opposes retaliatory U.S. countermeasures. “We say that the U.S. opting for applying countermeasures now would be shortsighted and counterproductive.”

*********************************************************************************************

New York City Bans Processed Meats in School Lunches

Kids are notorious for their love of hot dogs but they won’t get them in New York City schools this year for lunch. A Fox 5 New York Dot Com article says the Board of Education will no longer allow processed meats in public school cafeterias following a resolution passed by the New York City Council. Councilman Fernando Cabrera is a Bronx Democrat who sponsored the resolution. “We’re talking about hot dogs, we’re talking about cold cuts, and we’re talking about any processed meats,” he says. Salami and cheese sandwiches are no longer on the menu, as well as bologna and cheese sandwiches, cheese and turkey ham sandwiches, and pre-sliced Canadian turkey bacon and turkey ham. The Board of Education says it banned the meats that are defined by the World Health Organization as “processed.” The city has already stopped serving any meat products on Mondays, which Mayor Bill de Blasio says is a way to help reduce greenhouse gasses.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

nafblogobluegoldcopy