READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 10th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 10th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Senate Committee’s Plan USMCA Approvals

The Senate committees tasked with markup and approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement are planning to do so quickly. The agreement must be approved through the committees before reaching the full Senate. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who’s panel has already approved the agreement, Thursday said, “it takes just a short period of time” for other committees to review the implementing legislation. However, the impeachment impasse could end as early as Friday, further casting a cloud on just when the full Senate will consider USMCA. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’ll send the articles of impeachment “when I’m ready,” indicating that could be soon. Meanwhile, Senate Leader Mitch McConnel says the Senate will move on with other work until Pelosi sends the articles of impeachment. And, Grassley says the Senate is “not going to dilly-dally around while we’re waiting to see what Speaker Pelosi wants to do on impeachment,” adding, the Senate committees will act very quickly next week.

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Trump Announced National Environmental Policy Act Changes

President Donald Trump Thursday announced new proposed regulations to implement the National Environmental Policy Act. Trump says the announcement is part of his effort of “fixing this regulatory nightmare,” in which projects are delayed by “an outrageously slow and burdensome federal approval process.” Trump says the policy will cut the timeline for obtaining permits and force federal agencies to work more closely together to speed the process. Administered by the Environmental Protection Agency and enacted in 1970, NEPA assures all branches of government properly consider the environment before undertaking any major federal action that significantly affects the environment. The policy has not undergone substantive regulatory revision since 1986. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association hailed the announcement. NCBA President Jennifer Houston called the action a “commonsense regulatory relief.” Ranchers must undergo NEPA reviews for many reasons, but common examples include renewal of a term grazing permit, construction of range improvements, or to become eligible for participation in USDA programs.

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FCC Proposing $20.4 billion for Rural Broadband

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai (Uh-JEET Pie) this week presented his colleagues with final rules to launch the new $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. Chairman Pai says the fund would “target rural areas across the country where residents currently lack access to adequate broadband.” The rules will be voted on by the FCC at its Open Meeting on January 30. The proposal would establish a two-phased process to provide funding for the deployment of high-speed broadband in areas of the United States where there is currently not fixed broadband service that meets the Commission’s minimum speed standard of 25/3 Megabits per second. For Phase I, the FCC would target $16 billion to areas that are wholly unserved by such broadband. For Phase II, the FCC would use its new granular broadband mapping approach, called the Digital Opportunity Data Collection, to target unserved households in areas that are partially served by such broadband.

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China Announced Ethanol Mandate Rollback

China this week announced a suspension of its ethanol mandate, signally a further reduction of imports from the United States. The E10 target was suspended because China says, “any promotion of ethanol-gasoline must be based on the precondition that food security is guaranteed.” The mandate was implemented in 2017 to draw down massive corn stocks in China. The U.S. exported about 20 percent of its ethanol supplies to China in 2016, worth about $300 million. However, shipments have since sharply declined. Renewable Fuels Association Geoff Cooper told Reuters, “This is definitely a step in the wrong direction, but it was not completely unexpected.” Beijing announced a 30 percent import tariff in 2017, and added additional tariffs through the U.S.-China trade war of another 40 percent.  China was expected to sharply increase imports of U.S. ethanol under the recently announced phase one trade deal, but is now unlikely to require large ethanol supplies without the mandate.

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USDA, FDA, EPA Launch Website for Biotechnology Regulation

A joint-agency venture launched the Unified Website for Biotechnology Regulation Thursday. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency announced the website, which streamlines information about the three regulatory agencies charged with overseeing agriculture biotechnology products. The Unified Website for Biotechnology Regulation describes the federal review process for certain biotechnology products and allows users to submit questions to the three agencies. The goals of the website are to provide enhanced customer service to innovators and developers, while ensuring Americans continue to enjoy the safest and most affordable food supply in the world and can learn more about the safe use of biotechnology innovations. The website is part of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the website is “proof of President Trump’s commitment to provide the American people with sensible regulations in a clear and transparent manner.”

Website: https://usbiotechnologyregulation.mrp.usda.gov/biotechnologygov/home/

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New Holland Partnering with National Hemp Association

New Holland is partnering with the National Hemp Association to accelerate the return of hemp commodity crops on farms across North America, under the banner “Pushing Progress Together.” Announced at the Pennsylvania Farm Show this week, through the partnership, the National Hemp Association will participate alongside New Holland at 16 national farm shows throughout North America. The association will deliver educational sessions and panel discussions, as well as exhibiting the variety of products produced from hemp. The alliance will also work toward solving the industry’s biggest challenge: the absence of commercial-scale harvesting and equipment needed to meet demand. New Holland officials say the partnership will help the hemp industry to respond to concerns as it grows, and hear from its dealer network and customers “who are looking to New Holland to bring forward supply chain solutions.” The alliance will call on other industry partners to join a “Hemp Pledge” and commit to purchasing hemp grown and processed in the U.S. by U.S. farmers.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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