READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, September 15th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, September 15th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Report finds Market Facilitation Program Unfair

A new report finds the Market Facilitation Program created deep regional inequities, favored certain crops over others, and funneled money to large agricultural operations over smaller farms. Announced by Senator Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, the report is the result of a Government Accountability Office investigation. Stabenow requested the investigation in February of this year, and says, “The Administration needs to stop playing favorites and start helping the farms hit the hardest.” The report found southern farmers benefitted significantly compared to other regions. Eight of the top nine states with the highest payments per acre were in the South. Additionally, the report highlights unfairness between crops, and large farms befitted over smaller farms. The report says that Instead of providing more support for the 9,852 largest farms, USDA could have targeted funding to the thousands of small and beginning farmers that are often more vulnerable to market swings.

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EPA Rejects Gap-year Waivers

Growth Energy this week welcomed the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reject so-called ‘gap-year’ exemptions from the nation’s biofuel laws. In total, the agency had received 68 retroactive exemption requests from petroleum refiners seeking to skirt obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard and the move Monday denies the majority of pending requests. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “Today’s action lifts a cloud of uncertainty that has been hanging over America’s farmers and biofuel producers since June.” In the announcement, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says, “This decision follows President Trump’s promise to promote domestic biofuel production.” Wheeler adds, “We are delivering on that promise by following the rule-of-law and ensuring 15 billion gallons are blended into the nation’s fuel supply.” Meanwhile, over the weekend, Trump announced an executive order to allow E15 to be used in any pumps approved for E10, the national standard. The move should allow for more expansion of E15 in the market.

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Brazil Tariff Rate Quota for Ethanol Extended for 90 Days

Brazil’s tariff rate quota for ethanol has been extended for an additional 90 days, starting September 14. After expiring on August 31, a 20 percent tariff was temporarily applied to all U.S. ethanol. U.S. corn and ethanol groups expressed disappointment in the move, saying, “we would have preferred Brazil abandon its ethanol import tariffs entirely and resume its free trade posture on ethanol.” The comments came in a joint statement from the U.S. Grains Council, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, and the Renewable Fuels Association. Leaders of the organizations say the extension “serves neither Brazil’s consumers nor the Brazilian government’s own decarbonization goals.” However, the groups note they will use the extension to “aggressively pursue an open and mutually beneficial ethanol trading relationship with Brazil.” The exemption expired as both sides seek a new trade agreement regarding U.S. ethanol. The TRQ allows 198 million gallons of U.S. ethanol to avoid Brazil’s 20 percent tariff annually.

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Branstad Stepping Down as U.S. Ambassador to China

Terry Branstad, U.S. Ambassador to China, will step down to work on the Donald Trump re-election campaign. Reuters reports sources familiar with the matter cite Branstad’s popularity in Iowa, having served there as governor for over two decades, as an asset to Trump. Branstad will resign and leave China early next month. The resignation was first revealed on Twitter by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. A spokesperson from China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry Monday stated, “We noted the tweet by the U.S. side and have not yet received notification about the end of Ambassador Branstad’s tenure.” The U.S. Embassy in China confirmed the resignation, however, stating, “The Ambassador confirmed his decision to President Trump by phone last week.” In the statement, Branstad says, “I am proudest of our work in getting the Phase One trade deal and delivering tangible results for our communities back home.” Branstad was previously the longest-serving Governor of Iowa, a state that helped elect President Trump in 2016.

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NPPC Hosts Legislative Action Conference

A COVID-relief package that includes assistance to hog farmers in crisis and foreign animal disease prevention top the list of issues at the National Pork Producers Council’s Legislative Action Conference this week. Pork producers from across the country are gathering virtually to address these and other issues with lawmakers. NPPC President Howard “AV” Roth says, “U.S. pork producers are already suffering considerable losses due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and cannot afford another catastrophic blow should African swine fever or other foreign animal diseases enter our country.” Last week, Germany reported its first African Swine Fever case in a wild boar, as the disease continues to spread. NPPC is urging Congress to fully fund foreign animal disease prevention programs. U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspections at U.S. ports of entry are funded by Agricultural Quarantine Inspection program user fees. Due to the COVID-related economic downturn and significant reductions in travel, collection of these user fees has dropped precipitously.

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Wine Caucus Seeks CFAP Funding for Wine Producers

A group of lawmakers want the Department of Agriculture to include wine grape producers in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The Congressional Wine Caucus, a group of lawmakers representing wine-producing states, sent the request to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue last week. The lawmakers say the cessation of wine sales in multiple market channels has disrupted supply chains and forced wine grape growers “to swim against a tide of deteriorating prices.” An industry analyst projects revenue losses for the nation’s 10,000 wineries and 8,000 growers due to COVID-19 could reach $5.94 billion. Due to the unique character of the wine grape crop cycle and the processing, marketing, and sales of wine, wine grape growers and the organizations representing them have struggled to quantify a price decline for wine grapes during a January to April timeframe, as dictated currently by CFAP requirements. The lawmakers believe the “narrow, retrospective timeframe unfairly denies support to a vitally important sector of the agricultural community, one that is responsible for an enormous amount of economic activity.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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