READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, May 22nd

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, May 22nd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

U.S. Ethanol Heading to China

According to three ethanol-industry sources and shipping data, a rare U.S. ethanol shipment will arrive in China very soon. Reuters says that may be the first ethanol shipment to hit China since the two countries struck a trade deal earlier this year. China recently waived some additional tariffs on almost 700 American products, including ethanol, to support more purchases of U.S. farm goods to help meet its obligations in the Phase One trade deal. Since China made the move, the ethanol industry has been watching for signs of renewed trade in the biofuel. Tariffs on U.S. fuel ethanol were as high as 70 percent after Beijing upped some retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports in the back-and-forth trade dispute with Washington, D.C. A slump in fuel demand brought on by COVID-19 led to an oversupply of ethanol that caused prices to bottom out, forcing producers to slash their production amounts. One of the three sources to tell Reuters about the shipment says the vessel was carrying ethanol that originated in the United States and had been resold to China, likely from a seller in Saudi Arabia. A trader based in China tells Reuters that, “People are looking to import fuel ethanol from overseas as prices in northeastern China have risen in the past few days.”


EPA Plan Would Raise Biofuel Blending Targets Slightly in 2021

The Environmental Protection Agency has drafted a plan that would include a small bump in their biofuel-blending targets in 2021. Three people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that the proposed rule is undergoing a White House review. Under the rule, the EPA would require refiners to use 5.17 billion gallons of advanced biofuels in 2021, up from 5.09 billion gallons this year. The plan would include 670 million gallons of cellulosic renewable fuels, such as those made from crop residue, switchgrass, and biogas harvested at landfills, up from the 590 million gallons required in 2020. Refiners would be able to use as much as 15 billion gallons of conventional renewable fuels, including corn-based ethanol, to satisfy the mandate in 2021. In 2022, the EPA draft plan would require refiners to use 2.76 billion gallons of biodiesel, typically made from soybeans and waste cooking oil. That requirement would be up from the 2.43 billion gallons required in 2021. The EPA is expected to propose the quotas in the coming months while facing a deadline of November 30 to finalize the targets.


USDA Providing $1 Billion in Loan Guarantees for Rural Business and Ag Producers

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says the agency will make up to $1 billion in loan guarantees available to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during COVID-19. Also, agricultural producers who aren’t eligible for Farm Service Agency loans may receive funding under the USDA Business and Industry CARES Act Program provisions that are included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Other changes will allow USDA to provide 90 percent guarantees on B & I CARES Act Program loans, to set the application and guarantee fee at two percent of the loan, as well as to accept appraisals completed within two years of the loan application date, and extend the maximum term for working capital loans to 10 years. “USDA is committed to be a strong partner to rural businesses and agricultural producers and being a strong supporter of all aspects of the rural economy,” Perdue says. “Ensuring more rural agricultural producers can gain access to much-needed capital in these unprecedented times is a cornerstone of that commitment.” USDA intends to consider applications in the order they’re received, but they may also assign priority points to projects if the demand for funds exceeds availability.


USDA Accepting Applications for 2021 Export Programs

The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service is accepting applications from eligible organizations for the fiscal year 2021 funding for five export market development programs. FAS recently published the Fiscal Year 2021 Notices of Funding Opportunity for the Market Access Program, Foreign Market Development Program, Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program, the Quality Samples Program, and the Emerging Markets Program. The application deadline for all five of the programs is June 26, 2020. Under the Market Access Program, USDA provides competitive, cost-share assistance to U.S. exporters and agriculture, fish, and forest product trade organizations for international marketing and promotion of U.S. commodities and products. Under the Foreign Market Development Program, USDA partners with nonprofit agricultural and forest product trade associations to build longer-term international demand for U.S. commodities. The Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program funds projects that address sanitary, phytosanitary, and technical barriers that prohibit or threaten the export of U.S. specialty crops. The Quality Samples Program helps agricultural trade organizations provide small samples of their products to potential importers. As the name implies, the Emerging Markets Program supports technical assistance activities that promote U.S. agricultural, fish, and forest products in emerging markets.


NCGA Working to Find New Uses for Corn

The National Corn Growers Association is working hard to find new uses for corn and demonstrating it as the clear feedstock of choice. The availability of corn-based feedstocks and consumer demand represents an opportunity for stakeholders in the sustainable biomaterials industry and will help drive demand for corn higher. NCGA Director of Market Development Sarah McKay says, “The seeds have to be planted along the way to find the next big new uses of corn. It doesn’t just happen overnight.” She says that’s why NCGA works with university researchers, government entities, as well as untraditional partners to prime the pump for innovation and viable uses of corn. NCGA also works with individual companies, innovators, and research groups to engage in conversations and projects together to facilitate these technologies getting to commercialization, while also making sure their consumers understand the value of corn as an industrial feedstock. The NCGA has also held two Consider Corn Challenge contests. Many of the winners have gone on to secure additional funding to get their products to market. The contest winners have developed biosourced materials from corn that are starting materials for various biobased plastics, nylons, polyester resins, and more.


Cotton Council Joins Sustainable Apparel Coalition

Cotton Council International announced it had joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. It will use the group’s sustainability measurement suite of tools, known as the Higg Index, to drive environmental and social responsibility throughout its supply chain. With its membership in the SAC, the council joins more than 250 global brands, retailers, and manufacturers, as well as governmental, non-profit environmental organizations, and academic institutions. All of the various groups are committed to improving supply chain sustainability in the apparel, footwear, and textile industry. The U.S. cotton industry is committed to continual improvement in sustainability and continues to build upon the strong environmental gains already achieved over the past 35 years. In a release, the Cotton Council International says, “We are pleased to be joining the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and are confident that together we can scale positive impacts on product sustainability over time. We are collaborating with many other groups to enable greater supply chain transparency and informed decision making.” The Sustainable Apparel Coalition says, “Having CCI as part of the Coalition widens the scope of our impact within the industry and accelerates the changes we’re making toward responsible industry actions.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service