Saturday, August 10, 2019

Friday August 9 Ag News

Mid-Season Update on Soybean Gall Midge
Justin McMechan - NE Extension Crop Protection and Cropping Systems Specialist

As of August 7, six new counties have been identified as infested with soybean gall midge in Nebraska. Several new counties have been identified in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota and an infestation has been identified in northwest Missouri. In total, 86 counties across five states have been documented with soybean gall midge infestations.

If you’re in a county in Nebraska that hasn’t been indicated as infested and you’ve seen injury and soybean gall midge larvae, please contact Justin McMechan, Tom Hunt, or Robert Wright Send a photo of the larvae along with a GPS location or land description.

Scouting for Soybean Gall Midge

Be sure to scout all of your soybean fields regardless of whether you see any damage from the road. We’ve observed a number of fields that appear healthy from the field edge but are infested with soybean gall midge. In many cases, the dead or dying soybean plants in these fields have been covered over by healthy plants. Be sure to examine plants that are still green for soybean gall midge larvae. See the Twitter video for how to scout your fields for soybean gall midge.

Adult Emergence and Management

In Nebraska, soybean gall midge emergence in soybean has trickled along at low levels from the past couple weeks until this past Sunday when large populations of soybean gall midge adults were observed at nearly all sites in the east-central part of the state. As of Friday, August 2 a cumulative total of approximately 650 adults had been collected across all sites in east-central Nebraska with no more than 37 adults collected on a single day. On Sunday, a total of 756 adults were collected from eight sites in east-central Nebraska with 261 adults emerging from a single site over a two-day period. No significant numbers of emerging adults have been observed in northeast Nebraska.

With such high numbers of adult emergence in the recent days, many might be wondering if any action is needed. We do not recommend taking any action against soybean gall midge at this point in the season. Emergence of adults has continued since the Sunday collection and we expect emergence to continue through mid- to late-August based on last year’s observations.

This Week's Drought Summary

August 8, 2019 -

Heavy rain fell on large parts of Alaska this past week, bringing significant short-term relief, including an end to large fire development and expansion, at least for the time being. In contrast, dryness and drought expanded across broad sections of the contiguous 48 states, with relief restricted to parts of the Southeast. Most notably, hot and dry weather brought significant D0 expansion in the southern half of the Great Plains and across the Midwest and lower Ohio Valley. In the Northeast Climate Region, a few abnormally dry areas were introduced; this is only the fourth week since mid-January that dryness existed in any part of the Region. Meanwhile, heavy rain in eastern Puerto Rico improved conditions over eastern parts of the Commonwealth.


Generally 0.5 to 2.0 inches of rain fell last week on central and southern Wisconsin, but most of the region recorded only a few tenths of an inch, if any. The last 30 days brought only 10 to 50 percent of normal rainfall to most areas from central Iowa through east-central Illinois and part of western Indiana, with the largest deficits affecting a swath from east-central Iowa southeastward through central Illinois. Abnormal dryness was expanded extensively to cover this region, plus sections of southwestern Ohio, northeastern Kentucky, and southern Indiana, where rainfall has been slightly more generous. Since early June, 40 to 75 percent of normal rain has been recorded in central and eastern Iowa and adjacent Illinois. Farther north and west, patches of D0 persisted in and near the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northeastern Minnesota, and southeastern Michigan. No drought exists in the region at this time, though aforementioned sections of Iowa and Illinois are approaching D1.

High Plains

It was a dry week in and near existing areas of dryness and drought. Broad expansion of abnormal dryness occurred across central and southern Kansas, where conditions have deteriorated quickly as in Oklahoma and Texas. Much of central and south-central Kansas received 0.5 inch or less of rainfall over the last 30 days. In the rest of the region, D0 and D1 conditions generally persisted, with very limited expansion brought into parts of northern North Dakota, east-central Nebraska, and southeastern Colorado.

Looking Ahead

During the next 5 days (August 8 - 13, 2019) should bring heavy rains of 1 to locally 4 inches to portions of western New Mexico, a swath through the central Plains, and many locations across upstate New York and southern Maine. Most of the area from northern Idaho eastward through northern Montana are expecting 1 to 2 inches, as are most of the Dakotas and scattered patches across the Pacific Northwest. Other areas of dryness across the contiguous 48 states should get lesser amounts. Locally up to an inch is expected in the Southeast and southern New England, and little or none is anticipated in most of the new D0 area in the southern Plains from central Kansas through Oklahoma and Texas. Temperatures are forecast to be a few degrees above normal in the southern Plains and the Southeast while subnormal temperatures should extend from the northern half of the Plains to the Pacific Ocean.

The CPC 6-10 day outlook (August 14 -18, 2019) favors above-normal precipitation in east-central Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, the central and northern Plains, the lower Mississippi Valley, and the Southeast. Meanwhile, subnormal precipitation is expected in southern and southeast Alaska, the eastern Great Basin, the Four Corners States, most of Texas, and the Northeast. Temperatures should average below normal from the Intermountain West eastward through the Midwest and Northeast, and across east-central Alaska. Farther south, southern and southeastern Alaska have enhanced chances of warmer than normal weather, along with the Pacific Coast and a large swath from the Great Basin through the Four Corners States, central and southern High Plains, lower Mississippi Valley, and Southeast. The highest likelihood for hotter than normal weather are across most of Texas and the lower Southeast.

Registration Extended for Flame Weeding Workshop

The registration deadline for the Nebraska Extension FlameWeeding Workshop has been extended to Thursday, Aug. 15.

The full-day workshop will be held Monday, Aug. 19 at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead. University teams led by Stevan Knezevic (Department of Agronomy and Horticulture) and George Gogos (Department of Mechanical Engineering) will present data from seven years of research that resulted in 20 scientific publications, 100 abstracts, and the development of new flaming equipment. The workshop will include presentations, demonstrations, and an opportunity to hear from farmers using this weed control practice.

Propane fueled Flame Weeding is an acceptable method of weed (pest) control in organic farming, which is also gaining interest among conventional producers due to increase in weed resistance and costs of GMO crop seeds.

Topics include:

Propane doses for weed control and crop tolerance data will be presented.
Research update on winter annual weed control with flaming will be also covered.
One Flame Weeding Manual will be provided.
Four-row commercial type flamers with hoods for broadcast and banded flaming will be demonstrated.
Inter-row cultivation and intra-row flaming combined in a single operation will also be displayed.
Several local organic farmers will share their experience with flame weeding on their farms.

Workshop is limited to 60 people,  $100 per binder (lunch provided). $10.00 for spouse/guest’s meal. Partial scholarships may be available to certified organic farmers from Nebraska.

To register see the Flame Weeding website:  For more information contact: Stevan Knezevic, Ph: 402-584-3808 or

Northeast ag department to begin offering natural resources program this fall

Northeast Community College is offering a new agriculture degree this fall, associate of science in natural resources.

Dean of Agriculture, Math and Science Corinne Morris said this brings the number of distinct agriculture programs at Northeast to 12, ranging from agronomy to animal science, and from precision ag to horticulture and golf course management. Natural resources is designed as a transfer program for students who desire to earn a bachelor’s degree, but it can also lead to a good job with no further education.

Ag faculty members Robert Noonan and Sarah Sellin will teach most of the classes in the new program, with the assistance of biology instructor Erin Kucera. Noonan said he has already spoken with some students interested in the new program.

“As soon as the incoming students see the jobs that are out there, that are ag related but with more of a conservation focus, I think we’ll get even more interest,” Noonan said. “I don’t think it will take very many years and we will have quite a few students in this program.”

Sellin said they started discussing the possibility of a natural resources program last fall with representatives of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). She said Northeast already had most of the classes required for the program, so it was an easy addition to the department. For the natural resource program, Noonan will teach classes in forage and grassland production, entomology, advanced fertilizers and crop chemicals. Sellin’s classes for the new program will include introduction to natural resources, water resources and agri-ecology.

Graduates of a natural resources program may work for such organizations as Pheasants Forever, Whitetails Unlimited or Ducks Unlimited, Sellin said. Conservation agencies such as NRCS and natural resource districts would also have employment opportunities for students with natural resources degrees, as would many private businesses. Sellin said she knows of one student who is considering dual degrees in criminal justice and natural resources to work as a game warden.

Noonan said there is a growing interest in conservation.

“Not only can we maintain our soil health,” he said, “we can improve it, we can bring it back to where it was through these soil conservation practices.”

Former student named Northeast farm manager

A 2019 graduate of Northeast Community College’s agriculture department has been named the first manager of the College farm. Rob Thomas will also coordinate activities in the Chuck Pohlman Ag Complex.

Corinne Morris, dean of agriculture, math and science, said Thomas will work with Farm Operations Specialist Dan Radenz, and his assistant, Curt Wilken.

“We’ve tried harder and harder to tie the farm together with our class curriculum as well as doing some applied research projects,” Morris said. “The farm hasn’t gotten any bigger, but our use of the farm for educational purposes has grown substantially.”

Thomas’s responsibilities will include tasks that have been handled by several people in the past. Morris said many people have been doing a piece or two of the work, but now one person will be coordinating the farm and ag complex. Thomas’s first job is to write a long term farm plan, looking at what crops are planted in what fields, what’s new in production, and what needs to be done to improve each field.

Another responsibility of the new position is to make sure instructors have what they need from the farm for their curriculum and labs.

Thomas said, “I’m excited to work with Northeast educators to get the data that we find in the field back in the classroom, and get students more involved on the farm.”

Thomas will work closely with the ag department’s industry partners. He will also research redesigning of the feedlot, rotational grazing, and other ways to increase the size of the College beef herd using the same resources. Because he took many of the classes and is familiar with the instructors, Thomas said he has ideas for ways to make better use of the farm in the classroom.

Thomas earned his bachelor’s degree from California University in Pennsylvania. He taught technology education for five years, and developed an interest in agronomy and agricultural technology.

In researching two-year schools online, Thomas was impressed with Northeast Community College and its top ten Aspen Institute standing. He said the agronomy curriculum at Northeast was exactly what he was looking for, and at a good price. Thomas has earned degrees in agronomy and precision ag at Northeast.

Study Demonstrates Value of Pork and Red Meat Exports to U.S. Soy Growers

U.S. beef and pork exports added 85 cents per bushel to the price of U.S. soybeans and 39 cents per bushel to the price of U.S. corn in 2018, according to the latest report by World Perspectives, Inc. (WPI). Over the past three years, WPI has analyzed the impact of U.S. red meat exports on the value of domestic feed grains and oilseeds.

Among new information included in the latest report are statistics that point to the value of red meat exports to U.S. soybean producers. According to WPI, the market value of pork exports to the soybean industry in 2018 was $783 million. WPI’s updated study shows that without red meat exports, U.S. soybean farmers would have lost $3.9 billion last year and U.S. corn growers would have lost $5.7 billion.

The updated report includes a projection of domestic feed use impacts based on both the long-term 10-year baseline projections for meat exports, as well as a special analysis on the critical importance of the proposed U.S.-Japan trade agreement. The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) has also prepared state-specific statistics on the value of red meat exports to the top 15 soybean states and top 10 corn states.

“The World Perspectives study has been a very useful tool in quantifying the importance of red meat exports to our corn and soybean member organizations,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Results of the study and the subsequent updates demonstrate that maintaining global market access for U.S. beef and pork is critical to continued growth and to the continued value that meat exports bring to corn and soybeans.”

The updated study also looks forward, projecting that U.S. pork exports are expected to generate $8.68 billion in market value to soybeans from 2019 to 2028.  Red meat exports are expected to generate $19.1 billion in market value to corn and $3.1 billion in market value to distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) during that same period.

“When the original study came out a few years ago, it gave us a good look at the value of U.S. beef, pork and lamb exports to corn and soybean farmers,” said Dean Meyer, a corn, soybean and livestock producer from Rock Rapids, Iowa. Meyer, a member of the USMEF Executive Committee, noted that the WPI study continues to support the fact that exporting red meat drives demand for livestock, in turn driving demand for livestock feed.

“The updated study offers a fresh look at corn and goes a little deeper into soybean meal and what red meat exports mean for soybean growers. As grain farmers, we are aware that meat exports add value by increasing the volume of soybean meal and corn used to feed cattle and hogs, but the numbers in this study provide a clear picture of just how important those exports really are,” said Meyer.

Highlights from the updated WPI study include:
-    Since 2015, meat exports represent the fastest growing category of corn and soybean meal use.
-    In 2018, exports accounted for 14.6 percent of total U.S. beef production and 25.7 percent of U.S. total pork production, and accounted for 459.7 million bushels of corn utilization – with a market value of $1.62 billion at the year-average market price – and 2 million tons of soybean meal disappearance, which is the equivalent of 84.2 million bushels of soybeans with a market value of $783 million.
-    It is estimated that in 2018 beef and pork exports added $0.39 to the average 2018 corn price of $3.53/bushel. Similarly, it is estimated that pork exports added $0.85 per bushel to the average 2018 soybean price of $9.30/bushel.
-    Since 2015, one in every four bushels of added feed demand for corn was due to beef and pork exports and one in every 10 tons of added feed demand for soybean meal use was due to pork exports.
-    Over the next 10 years, meat exports are forecast to generate a projected $30.8 billion in cumulative annual market value to corn and soybeans based on USDA’s long-term forecast for crop prices.

USMEF and the National Corn Growers Association initially commissioned WPI to quantify the impact of U.S. beef and pork exports on corn use and value in 2016, using 2015 data. Record-setting growth in red meat exports since 2016 – along with an uncertain global trade climate that has developed since the original study – led USMEF to request updates. Using final 2018 data and new 2019 to 2028 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) baseline projections, WPI updated its analysis of red meat exports’ impact on corn in 2018 and expanded the analysis on the value of pork exports to soybeans.

Checkoff-funded soybean breeders improving several sources of SCN resistance

Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) causes the most yield loss of any soybean pathogen in North America, with economic impact in excess of $1 billion per year. That’s why soybean breeders funded by the checkoff (United Soybean Board and North Central Soybean Research Program) are improving and adding to current genetic sources of SCN resistance and breeding them into high-yielding backgrounds.

Like herbicide resistant weeds, the SCN organism evolves and adapts to eventually overcome the same source of genetic resistance deployed in a field year after year. Consequently, constant use of a single source of resistance (such as the PI 88788 source) will eventually wear thin, if not improved upon or rotated with other unique sources.

Expanding the sources of SCN resistance hasn’t always been easy. Public soybean breeders have spent years working with SCN resistance breeding lines other than PI 88788, which is the source of resistance used in 95 percent of commercially available SCN-resistant varieties. Unfortunately, breeding resistance genes from those other sources – such as PI 548402 (Peking), PI 90763 and PI 437654 (Hartwig) – into elite varieties has been challenging.

“With these unique resistance sources, you start with low-yielding backgrounds,” says Brian Diers, plant breeder at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “It takes time to breed resistance from these new sources into elite genetic backgrounds.”

Diers says that’s partly why the PI 88788 source of resistance has been over-used. “It’s worked really well, and breeders have been successful at incorporating it into high-yielding varieties. It’s been more difficult and taken longer to get yield parity with other sources of resistance, but we’re solving that problem.”

Improving Peking

Another reason PI 88788 has been easy to work with: The resistance involves one major gene, Rhg1, whereas Peking resistance involves two genes, Rhg1 and Rhg4. Simply put, it’s harder for breeders to work with two genes.

“But as you continue cycles of breeding, you are able to incorporate these genes more readily into elite, high-yielding lines. Breeders have been working on this for a long time,” Diers says. “Improved breeding technology is another factor. We have better genetic markers to select the genes we need, so we can develop varieties more quickly.”

Soybean growers, particularly in the Midwest, should be able to find more soybean varieties than ever with the Peking source of resistance. According to Diers, “If you can, rotate the sources of resistance you use. We have a large amount of evidence showing that this reduces selection pressure on SCN populations to continually adapt.”

Reintroducing PI 437654

Breeders at several universities have been developing cultivars with the PI 437654 resistance source. The first variety released with this source of resistance was Hartwig, which was released in 1992. Breeders have continued to breed with resistance from this source and are now obtaining good yields.

“Our program has released two high-yielding lines with PI 437654 resistance, which were commercialized by companies through licenses from the university,” Diers says. “George Graef, a plant breeder at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has recently developed top-yielding lines with PI 437654 resistance.”

Genetic resistance stacks

In addition, Diers’ team recently released a variety with a three-gene stack that contains two new resistance genes from wild soybean (Glycine soja) that have proven very effective when bred into commercial soybean varieties. “We combined the two resistance genes from wild soybean with Rhg1 from PI 88788 and have shown that this combination gives greater resistance than Rhg1 alone,” he explains.

Diers has also developed a four-gene stack – the two new resistance genes from wild soybean, stacked with Rhg1 from PI 88788 plus another resistance gene from PI 567516C. “If you look in the literature, there are many SCN resistance genes that have been mapped,” he says. “We worked on the gene from PI 567516C because it can give a greater increase in resistance than most other genes mapped.”

Not all PI 88788 varieties are created equal

For growers who are battling aggressive nematode populations, if you only have access to varieties with PI 88788 resistance, at least rotate the variety you plant. “Not all PI 88788 varieties are created equal,” Diers continues. “Varieties derived from PI 88788 resistance do not all have the same level of resistance and this may be related to the number of copies of the Rhg1 gene. There are normally 10 copies of the Rhg1 gene in varieties with PI 88788 resistance, but some may have fewer copies. With PI 88788, the higher the copy number the higher the resistance.”

Ideally, soybean growers in all regions will soon have choices of genetic resistance to SCN besides PI 88788. That’s one of the goals in the National Soybean Nematode Strategic Plan, a joint effort of the United Soybean Board and North Central Soybean Research Program.

EPA Announces Biofuel and Small Refinery Exemption Priorities

EPA will announce its final decisions related to 31 small refinery exemptions and 6 application denials this afternoon on its web page, Public Data for the Renewable Fuel Standard - Small Refinery Exemptions ( Under EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, a small refinery may be granted a temporary exemption from its annual Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) if it can demonstrate that compliance with the RVOs would cause the refinery to suffer disproportionate economic hardship. EPA evaluates submissions to determine whether an exemption may be granted, based on information presented by the petitioning refinery and on the statutory and regulatory requirements for exemption.

EPA is proud to announce its intention to further explore opportunities to remove regulatory burdens that prevent marketplace entrance and growth to natural gas, flexible fuel vehicles, and E85 fuels. EPA welcomes the opportunity to engage with stakeholders to explore deregulatory options in the coming months to ensure that it plays its part in supporting American farmers and consumers.

Finally, EPA has also been in regular communication with the National Corn Growers Association and their state affiliates on the agency’s intent to expedite the reregistration of atrazine, a critical crop protection tool for corn. EPA is committed to an expeditious and transparent process to ensure that America’s corn growers have the tools they need to grow safe, healthy, and abundant food for all Americans and a growing global population.

NCGA Statement: EPA Waivers Undermine RFS

NCGA President Lynn Chrisp made the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved 31 refinery exemptions. Since early 2018, EPA has undermined the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and granted 53 RFS waivers to big oil companies, totaling 2.61 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons of renewable fuel.

“Waivers reduce demand for ethanol, lower the value of our crop and undermine the President’s support for America’s farmers. Waivers benefit big oil at the expense of corn farmers who, between losing export markets abroad and ethanol markets at home, are losing patience. 

“Mr. President, you proudly stand with farmers, but your EPA isn’t following through. You can step up for farmers today by reining in RFS waivers. Farmers expect the RFS to be kept whole by accounting for waived gallons and bringing more transparency to EPA’s secret process.

“Farmers are facing a sixth consecutive year of depressed income and commodity prices, with farm income for 2019 projected to be half of what it was in 2013. It’s time for this Administration to act in the best interest of farmers.”

EPA Lets Down Sorghum Ethanol Plants and Farmers with Additional Small Refinery Exemptions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today an additional 31 small refinery exemptions. National Sorghum Producers Past Chairman Don Bloss, a sorghum farmer from Pawnee City, Nebraska, released the following statement in response:

"National Sorghum Producers is disappointed in the EPA's decision to administer extensions to profitable, undisclosed refiners at the detriment of U.S. ethanol and sorghum producers. The continued expansion of small refinery waivers places additional concerns on ethanol producers already facing significantly reduced margins.

With one-third of the U.S. sorghum crop used to produce fuel ethanol, today's announcement comes as a significant disappointment to sorghum farmers. With U.S. net farm income down almost 50 percent from the 2013 peak and sorghum farmers' largest market, China, currently on the sidelines, these demand-destroying waivers could not have come at a worse time. National Sorghum Producers will continue to advocate for realistic, fair policies that fulfill Congressional intent while benefiting sorghum farmers and rural Americans."

More Refiner Bailouts: A Broken Promise That Will Haunt Rural America

Calling it a significant broken promise on the part of President Trump that will hurt rural America at the worst possible time, the Renewable Fuels Association strongly criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement late Friday that granted 31 more exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard to oil refineries, representing more than 1 billion gallons of additional lost RFS demand. This comes after 54 exemptions were given for the prior two years, with not a single waiver request denied. In today’s announcement, only six requests were denied.

 “At a time when ethanol plants in the Heartland are being mothballed and jobs are being lost, it is unfathomable and utterly reprehensible that the Trump Administration would dole out more unwarranted waivers to prosperous petroleum refiners,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Today’s announcement comes as a total shock, as just two months ago President Trump himself heard directly from Iowa farmers and ethanol plant workers about the disastrous economic impacts of these small refinery handouts. In response, he told us he would ‘look into it’ and we believed that would lead to the White House and EPA finally putting an end to these devastating waivers. Instead, the Trump administration chose to double down on the exemptions, greatly exacerbating the economic pain being felt in rural America and further stressing an industry already on life support.

“There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that small refineries are suffering ‘disproportionate economic harm’ due to the RFS, meaning the entire EPA decision-making process is a sham. Making matters worse, the process remains cloaked in secrecy and bias, and there is mounting evidence that the administration is continuing to grant full exemptions against the recommendations of the Department of Energy—and even against the advice of some of EPA officials.”

RFA noted that 13 ethanol plants have recently shut down—three of them permanently—due in large part to the demand loss resulting from the administration’s abusive exploitation of the small refiner waivers.

“Ethanol demand has fallen and prices have plummeted to their lowest values in more than a decade,” Cooper said. “When operating, the 13 plants that recently shut down bought nearly 300 million bushels of corn and supported more than 2,400 jobs in rural communities from Iowa and Minnesota to Mississippi and Virginia. Who will tell those workers and their families that the demands of Big Oil are more important to this administration than the livelihood of rural America?

“Neil Armstrong spoke of his setting foot on the moon as one small step for man and a giant leap for mankind. EPA, by allowing year-round sales of E15 at the end of May, gave the ethanol industry one small step forward. But now, with EPA’s decision to grant these small refinery exemptions, we have one giant leap – backwards.”

Trump EPA Shatters Rural Hopes with 31 New Refinery Exemptions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved a shocking 31 new refinery exemptions. The handouts give oil refiners a free pass under the Renewable Fuel Standard, threatening to destroy an additional billion gallons of critical biofuel demand – on top of the 2.6 billion gallons already destroyed over the last two years. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement:

“The EPA has proven beyond any doubt that it doesn’t care about following the law, American jobs, or even the president’s promises. Now farmers and biofuel producers are paying the price.

“These exemptions are destroying demand for homegrown energy at a time when family farms are struggling, farm income is plummeting and many ethanol plants have been forced to close their doors or idle production. The impact on rural communities cannot be overstated. President Trump must move quickly if there is any hope of repairing the damage. If he won’t hold the EPA accountable, then he’s failing to uphold the commitment he’s made to rural America.”

ACE CEO reaction to EPA’s RFS waiver decisions

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its small refinery exemption (SRE) dashboard today, granting 31 of the 38 waiver requests that were pending from the 2018 compliance year under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS):

“EPA’s refiner-win-at-all-costs oversight of the RFS is doing real damage to America’s farmers and renewable fuel producers who are already suffering from trade wars and volatile markets. The RFS is supposed to ensure the use of ethanol and biodiesel increases from one year to the next, but 85 Small Refinery Exemptions later and over 3 billion waived gallons represents an enormous step backwards.

“The Agency’s actions on the 2018 waiver requests reinforces our decision to join with others to challenge EPA’s handling of certain Small Refinery Exemptions in Court and petition for EPA to account for lost volumes of renewable fuel resulting from the unprecedented number of retroactive waivers granted by the Agency that we recently asked the court to move forward on due to no response from EPA.”

NBB Condemns EPA's RFS Waiver Giveaway to the Oil Industry

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) today condemned the Environmental Protection Agency's granting of 31 retroactive small refinery exemptions for 2018 as a fundamental failure to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

"Less than two months after vowing to always protect and defend American farmers, President Trump is bowing to oil industry pressure and allowing his EPA to dismantle the Renewable Fuel Standard program, force U.S. biodiesel producers out of business, and undermine the farm economy," stated Kurt Kovarik, NBB's Vice President of Federal Affairs. "EPA and administration personnel are well aware that the ongoing spree of big oil exemptions destroy demand for biodiesel and render the RFS program meaningless."

According to University of Illinois economist Scott Irwin, virtually all of the demand destruction from small refinery waivers is falling on the biodiesel industry. As EPA continues to hand them out to every refiner that asks, the damage to the U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industry could reach $7.7 billion or 2.54 billion gallons, according to Irwin.

A small refinery processing 75,000 barrels of oil per day can produce nearly 1 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel per year. The refinery's annual RFS obligation would create demand for nearly 20 million gallons of biodiesel or renewable diesel, which are the most widely available advanced biofuels. Dozens of biodiesel producers across the United States produce less than 20 million gallons each year.

Kovarik continued, "Biodiesel producers are already shutting down facilities and laying off workers, due to loss of demand. The ongoing demand destruction will undercut the industry's investments and choke off markets for surplus agricultural oils, adding to the economic hardship that farmers are facing. The Trump administration's action represents a fundamental betrayal of previous promises to farmers and the agricultural economy."

Peterson: EPA’s Waivers Undermine the RFS, Corn Market

Following an announcement Friday evening from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the granting of 31 small refinery exemption waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard, Congressman Collin C. Peterson issued a statement pointing to the capacity of the waivers to significantly undermine the RFS at a time when farmers need the certainty it creates.

“The Administration tried to bury bad news for rural America by quietly approving 31 more waivers this Friday afternoon that undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the market for corn. On Wednesday, I hosted a packed forum at Farmfest with Secretary Perdue where farmers raised this issue again and again. Farmers are on the front lines of the tariff war and this announcement by the EPA will only make things worse.”

As a co-Chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, Congressman Peterson has worked to stop the EPA from approving waivers to the RFS that have hurt ethanol producers and the farm economy. Congressman Peterson, Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and the co-chairs of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus introduced H.R. 3006, the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act of 2019, which would stop the EPA from recklessly granting waivers to oil refineries and undermining the market for ethanol. 


On Monday, the U.S. Deputy United States Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney and African Union Commission Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga signed a joint statement to discuss and implement an African continental free trade agreement. "The United States and the African Union share a mutual desire to pursue deeper trade and investment ties beyond the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which is scheduled to expire in 2025, eventually leading to a continental trade partnership between the United States and Africa that supports regional integration," according to the joint statement.

The U.S. pork industry faces a number of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade that prevent the industry from reaching its potential. The National Pork Producers Association is hopeful that this development brings us closer to resolving the numerous issues preventing our access.

Farm Credit Increased Quality, Quantity of Programs to Support Young, Beginning and Small Farmers in 2018

Farm Credit institutions increased the quality and quantity of programs and services in support of young, beginning and small (YBS) producers across the country in 2018, according to a Farm Credit Administration (FCA) report released this week. The Agency also reported favorably on Farm Credit’s work to tailor their outreach to diverse producers.

“Long-term, we are bullish on agriculture, and that’s borne out in Farm Credit’s support for young, beginning and small producers in 2018. While the numbers held strong, it’s important to remember the individual farmers and ranchers behind those numbers. Many are struggling with low commodity prices, terrible weather and a difficult trade situation. Farm Credit is working alongside them, helping them think through business plans and developing financing that produces the best possible outcome for their specific operation. That’s our mission and we’re committed to fulfilling it,” said Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose.

In its presentation on the report, FCA commended Farm Credit institutions’ coordination across the Farm Credit System that resulted in better outreach and education opportunities to YBS farmers. Those opportunities include working with ethnic organizations, offering scholarships and grants to continue learning or acquire new skills, and classes and webinars on business planning, personal finance, crop insurance and risk mitigation, among other topics.

Nearly 20 percent of the total number of Farm Credit loans are made to young farmers, nearly 30 percent to beginning farmers, and just over 50 percent to small farmers. In 2018, Farm Credit increased the amount of its lending to young farmers by 7.6 percent, to beginning farmers by 7.1 percent and to small farmers by 6.8 percent.

While the number of new YBS loans and the YBS share of total new loan volume decreased slightly, FCA Board Chair Glen Smith commented that this slight decline was expected, primarily because of technical counting issues associated with tracking YBS loan participations and the impact of several association mergers.

* Please note that the YBS numbers cannot be combined. A single loan to a 25-year-old rancher in her third year of ranching with annual sales of $100,000 could be counted in the young, beginning and small categories. We report this way for two reasons: the Farm Credit Administration requires us to report this way and it is the most accurate portrayal of who we serve. We anticipate a new reporting system might be in place for future years as a result of an ongoing effort by FCA to clarify reporting requirements.

The FCA is an independent federal regulatory agency charged with oversight of the Farm Credit System. It annually reviews Farm Credit’s performance on meeting the needs of beginning farmers and ranchers and reports its findings to Congress.

Farm Credit supports rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services, today and tomorrow. It has been fulfilling its mission of helping rural America grow and thrive for more than a century with the capital necessary to make businesses successful and by financing vital infrastructure and communication services. For more information visit

Subway to Test Alternative Meat Options at 685 Restaurants

Subway Restaurants will test Beyond Meat Inc meatballs in 685 restaurants across the United States and Canada starting next month, the latest chain to jump on the meat alternatives bandwagon.

The chain said it would use the plant-based meatballs in its trademark 'Meatball Marinara sub' at the restaurants for a limited period, reports Reuters.

Shares of Beyond Meat, which sells its plant-based burgers and sausages at restaurants and in supermarkets, rose 4% in premarket trading. They have soared 545% since their IPO in May.

Plant-based meat alternatives have seen booming interest from consumers and restaurants, supporting startups like Beyond Meat and its competitor Impossible Foods, and even sparking interest from veteran meat companies such as Tyson Foods Inc. and Perdue Foods.

Beyond Meat's products, including faux meat patties and beef crumbles, are used in Del Taco Restaurant Inc's tacos and Carl's Jr's burgers and most recently, in chains such as Dunkin' and Canada's Tim Hortons. Blue Apron last month said it would also add Beyond Meat's plant-based burgers to its meal-kits.

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