Monday, July 6th, 2020 Farm News

Wheeler Talks About Gap-Year SREs

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler talked about the 52 gap-year Small Refinery Exemption petitions awaiting the agency. The 52 applications cover the years 2011-2018. There are 27 more SRE applications for 2019 and one for 2020. All the applications are in the hands of the Department of Energy for review. The 52 applications were sent in earlier this year by refiners after a Court of Appeals ruling earlier this year in the Tenth Circuit. A DTN report says the biofuels industry and supportive lawmakers are in the middle of a public relations campaign to encourage the EPA to reject all of the applications. Some of the petitions that go as far back as 2012 have renewable identification numbers for that year which have expired. Wheeler says that means there are several potential problems with the petitions. “So, there are questions about whether they can show economic harm and what the remedy would be,” Wheeler says. “First, we’re waiting to see what the Department of Energy has to say about the small refinery exemptions.”


USMCA Kicks in Under a Cloud of Disagreements

A modernized North American trade pact officially took effect last week, providing some continuity for manufacturers and agriculture. Reuters says the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement is facing multiple disputes that still need to be resolved, exposing cracks in what was supposed to be a stronger North American “fortress of competitiveness.” The deal takes effect with all three countries mired in a COVID-inspired recession. April trade flow of goods between the countries is normally about $1.2 trillion every year, but the disease cut trade to its lowest monthly level in ten years. The Trump Administration is currently threatening to implement new tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada. Issues currently nagging at the USMCA also include hundreds of legal challenges to Mexico’s new labor laws that ensure workers can freely organize and grant unions full collective bargaining rights. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer calls the agreement the most “far-reaching” trade agreement in history. However, he also says he won’t hesitate to file dispute cases “early and often” to enforce USMCA provisions. He says Mexico’s failure to approve U.S. biotech products is an example.


Hemp Growers Looking to Establish Checkoff

The National Industrial Hemp Council and the Hemp Industries Association entered into an agreement to look into the possibility of establishing a marketing checkoff program for hemp. “Today is another step forward in the right direction for hemp farmers and consumers of hemp-related products,” says Patrick Atagi (Ah-TAH-gee), board chair of NIHC. “A checkoff program would further legitimize a rapidly growing industry and will help hemp farmers compete on a level playing field with producers of other agricultural-related commodities.” Rick Trojan, President of the HIA, says, “This first-of-its-kind agreement creates a focus on gathering data and distributing education as hemp cultivation expands nationally.” The Hagstrom Report says the two organizations will form a working group with representatives from across the industry to discuss the details on how a hemp checkoff program should be structured and operate. The working group’s effort would guide the eventual proposal to USDA that will include industry analysis, the justification for the program, program objectives, and the impact on small businesses. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp production in the U.S. and was signed into law by President Trump after the legislation made it through both chambers of Congress.


USDA Reminding Producers to Complete Crop Acreage Reports

Producers who haven’t completed their crop acreage reports after spring planting should make an appointment with their local Farm Service Agency office before the applicable deadline. July 15th is the major deadline for most crops, but acreage reporting deadlines vary by county and by crop. “The first step to becoming eligible for many USDA programs is to file an accurate crop acreage report,” says FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “To file your acreage report, call your local FSA office to make an appointment.” Due to COVID-19, FSA put reporting flexibilities in place. The agency can work with producers to file timely acreage reports by phone, email, and online tools, as well as virtual meetings. You must call ahead to those offices that are open for in-person appointments. After all of the completed maps and acreage reporting information is received, FSA will make software updates and send producers the completed Report of Acreage form to sign. Producers must return the signed form certifying their acreage report to the FSA as soon as possible.


Dairy Supply Chains Need to Adjust to Changing Conditions

COVID-19 is dramatically affecting consumer habits and dairy supply chains as food service demand plummets and grocery sales take off. Consumers struggling with job losses and economic uncertainty quickly returned to buying basic dairy products like fluid milk, commodity cheese, and butter. A new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange indicates that consumer behavior will be different for the next 12 to 18 months than it was before COVID-19. As that behavior begins to become a habit, dairy supply chains will need to adjust from the farm to the fork. “The dairy industry is coping with some new realities, largely driven by the decrease in foodservice demand and restaurant sales,” says Tanner Ehmke, manager of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange. “The challenges for dairy supply chains will be adapting to focus on meeting the demand trends based on evolving consumer behavior as we navigate through an uneven reopening.” Consumers increased their purchases of products that had fallen out of favor in recent years. For example, processed cheese sales increased by 20 percent during the eight weeks ending on May 31. White milk sales gained more than 10 percent during the same period.


Farm Bureau Looking for “Farm Dog of the Year” Nominations

The American Farm Bureau is inviting farmers to submit nominations for the 2021 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest. This is the third year of the contest that celebrates farm dogs that work alongside farmers and ranchers to produce nutritious food for families and their pets across America. The grand prize winner gets a year’s worth of Purina dog food and $5,000 in prize money. The winner gets recognized at a Farm Dog of the Year award ceremony at the AFBF Convention coming up in January. Up to four regional runners-up will get $1,000 each in prize money. “We’re pleased to continue this award, which provided a great point of connection for the general public to get a glimpse into farm life,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “It’s especially appropriate after a year of unprecedented challenges in agriculture to recognize the dual role farm dogs play as both working dogs and companions to farm families.” Farm dog owners must be Farm Bureau members to enter their dogs in the competition. Owners can find more information at


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