FarmPolicy

December 13, 2019

EPA Issues; Ag Economy; Biofuels; Farm Bill; Food Safety; and Political Notes

EPA Issues

Darren Samuelsohn reported yesterday at Politico that, “Lisa Jackson is sticking to her guns.

The Environmental Protection Agency finds itself constantly under attack from industry groups and Republicans who say the agency is overreaching on everything from climate change to microscopic soot. And with the failure of the White House and Congress to pass a climate bill, combined with a potential GOP takeover, now could be seen as the right time for the agency’s head to dial back the rhetoric.

“But at an event last month celebrating the Clean Air Act’s 40th anniversary, Jackson swung hard at industry groups, offending some officials in the room and potentially adding fuel to claims the Obama administration is anti-business.”

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Biofuels; Farm Bill; Trade; Ag Economy; GIPSA; and Political Notes

Biofuels

Scott Irwin, Darrel Good, and Mindy Mallory, from the University of Illinois, published a paper this week titled, “Could a Variable Ethanol Blenders’ Tax Credit Work?

The authors stated that, “The U.S. biofuels industry is the recipient of a number of economic incentives from the federal and various state governments. For the ethanol industry, the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) is the major federal tax incentive that supports the use of ethanol. Known more popularly as the ‘ethanol blenders’ credit,’ this incentive has been widely debated in recent months for several reasons. First, the blenders’ credit is scheduled to expire at the end of 2010. Second, pressure to reduce the fiscal deficit of the federal government has focused attention on many tax incentive programs, including the blenders’ credit. Third, recent economic analysis has questioned the need for a blenders’ credit in the presence of biofuels mandates (Babcock, 2010).

The purpose of this policy brief is to analyze how a variable ethanol blenders’ credit might work in comparison to the current fixed per gallon credit. We first review some specifics regarding the current fixed credit policy and then discuss basic issues pertaining to a variable credit policy. We follow this with a comparison of the historical performance of two variable blending policies and the present policy.”

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Farm Bill; EPA; Biofuels; Climate; Nutrition; Trade; Ag Economy; and Political Notes

Farm Bill (Budget Issues)

DTN Political Correspondent Jerry Hagstrom reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “High world cotton prices have led to a big drop in government payments to cotton farmers, but that decrease in subsidies will make it difficult for Congress to make changes to resolve the World Trade Organization cotton case against the United States that Brazil won, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson said in a recent interview.

“‘There will be no baseline for cotton,’ said Peterson, D-Minn., referring to the congressional calculation of how much has been spent on specific government programs. Peterson has said that if he remains chairman, each farm sector will have to stick within its current budget if farmers are seeking changes in programs for specific crops. Depending on how the Congressional Budget Office views future cotton prices and whether they would go low enough to trigger countercyclical and marketing loan payments, Peterson’s statement could be an exaggeration, but it is likely that the baseline will be much lower.”

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Biofuels; Climate; Ag Economy; Nutrition; Food Safety; Trade; and Political Notes

Biofuels

Philip Brasher reported in yesterday’s Des Moines Register that, “Ethanol producers face a fight to save their government subsidies, but first industry leaders had to stop squabbling among themselves.

“Representatives of groups representing the ethanol industry and corn growers have been meeting weekly, including several times at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, or talking by phone to resolve differences and strategize how to save the biofuel’s federal subsidy.

“The industry ‘is kind of a dysfunctional family at the moment,’ said David Nelson, a Belmond farmer and longtime board member of the National Corn Growers Association and the Renewable Fuels Association.”

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EPA Issues; Farm Bill; Trade; Ag Economy; Biofuels; Food Safety; and Nutrition

EPA Issues

A House Agriculture Committee news release from yesterday stated that, “House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., yesterday introduced H.R. 6273 which amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) to prohibit additional permits for pesticide application when pesticides are applied consistent with FIFRA.

“‘This legislation provides farmers and ranchers with the safe harbor they deserve in the application of pesticides. The bill relieves producers from a potentially costly regulatory burden that does little if anything to protect the environment,’ Peterson said.

“In the decades since Congress enacted the CWA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has never issued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the application of a pesticide. Instead, EPA has regulated these types of applications through FIFRA, enacted by Congress to control all aspects of pesticide registration, sales and use. The FIFRA registration process includes stringent requirements for a wide range of environmental, health and safety studies to establish the circumstances under which pesticides can be legally used in the United States.”

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