Thursday, August 22, 2019

Thursday August 22 Ag News

Fifth Grade Students from Northeast Nebraska to Gather at Ag Festival

Nine classrooms with over 200 fifth graders will be attending the event that includes hands-on interactive learning about Nebraska’s number one industry, agriculture.

Fifth graders from across Northeast Nebraska will attend the Growing Potential Ag Festival held at the Beaumont Event & Concert Hall in Wayne, NE on Thursday August 29th from 10am to 2pm. Learning stations set up throughout the grounds will engage students on every aspect of agriculture, including careers, livestock, planting and harvest, ethanol, land stewardship, and how corn is used in everyday life. There will be live animals and real machinery for the kids to see up close.

The Growing Potential Ag Festival is presented by the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation and the Nebraska Northeast Corn Growers Association. 

Northeast launches capital campaign for new agriculture facilities; $5 million lead gift announced

In an industry that is critical to not only Nebraska and the nation, but across the entire world, the agriculture department at Northeast Community College is at the forefront of developing future farmer-scientists. The institution has been recognized for its work in the area over the years and presently awards the eighth highest number of associate degrees in agriculture in the country.

On Thursday, college officials launched a major initiative that will ensure agriculture students are succeeding in their education to develop the skills to become productive members of the workforce and the communities they serve. A news conference kicked off a capital campaign to raise funds for the first phase of the Agriculture & Water Center of Excellence at Northeast, a project that has been designed to invest in future facilities and equipment to enhance programming opportunities.

“Agriculture is the single largest program of study at Northeast,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and the executive director of the college foundation. “Approximately 350 students register for 12 agriculture programs at Northeast each year. These students, who receive outstanding instruction from 14 full-time faculty members, are exposed to cutting edge technology, but many of their classrooms and labs are in a 100-year-old repurposed dairy barn. The Agriculture & Water Center of Excellence project will provide modern, efficient classroom and lab space for these future producers and agribusiness employees.”

The Agriculture & Water Center of Excellence is a multi-phased project, and funds are currently being solicited for $23 million for initial construction through a capital campaign called “Nexus.” The College has set aside $10 million of its capital funds to help establish this project, the remainder will be raised privately.

Kruse describes the word nexus as signifying center point or “the joining.”

“Agriculture is the center of the economy of Nebraska. Nebraska is in the center of the United States. The 20-county service area of Northeast Community College includes one of the highest concentrations of farming and ranching, agri business and meat processing in the nation.”

Initial construction planned for the Agriculture & Water Center of Excellence includes a new farm site with farm office and storage, large animal handling facility and other farm structures. In addition, the plan calls for a veterinary technology clinic and classrooms. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex at the intersection of E. Benjamin Ave. and Highway 35 in Norfolk. The vet tech building will be located west of the ag complex, while the farm site and animal handling facilities will be behind the tree line that is north of the current complex.

Replacing the current farm site with facilities designed for teaching and learning is a priority of the Nexus campaign. The largest building on the current site is a former dairy loafing barn that was built in the 1920s.

Corinne Morris, dean of agriculture, math and science at Northeast said the farm site has limited storage for equipment, so expensive machinery is stored outside or in buildings with dirt floors, no electricity and no front doors.

“There is no structure for feed storage and no modern livestock buildings, and the feedlot needs to be redesigned and relocated,” she said.

An efficiently designed farm site will allow for space for students to observe farm operations and livestock handling, and also provide hands on opportunities with facilities and equipment similar to what they will encounter on the job or on their own farm operations.

Morris said the current vet tech facility has state of the art equipment to train students, but it has poor lighting and drainage.

“Because of the long, narrow design of the former dairy loafing barn used for vet tech, the clinic is not arranged efficiently. The surgery suite and radiology are located on opposite ends of the building, and faculty offices as well as the lab used for blood tests are located on the main campus.”

Dr. Michael Cooper, director of the veterinary technology program, said it is critical for his students to learn in a facility that reflects the type of environment they will likely work in once they obtain employment.

“Our current facilities and their arrangement are outdated. Our students really need to be in a facility that allows for efficiency so that the laboratory and treatment are close together, so that radiology and surgery are close together in order to mimic a typical working clinic.”

Northeast features one of only two, two-year veterinary technology programs in the state. Morris said graduates are continually in demand and the growth of the pork and poultry industries in Nebraska has increased the need for employees with these skills.

Jeanne Reigle, of Madison, and Russ Vering, of Scribner, serve as volunteer co-chairs of the Nexus campaign.

Reigle, of Reigle Cattle Co., said, “Northeast Community College sees that bigger picture. They see a place for northeast Nebraska and Northeast Community College to be a premiere location to bring people from all over the country to see what it really takes to be in agriculture.”

Vering, of Central Plains Milling, Howells and Columbus – member of the National Pork Producers Council and past president of the Nebraska Pork Producers, said the campaign is an investment in the future of the region.

“This campaign makes sense to communities, local businesses, feedlots, swine operations, feed companies. I believe you will feel the direct investment locally in your community, he said. “Investing in this program really is investing in our small communities, in our rural areas in Nebraska. It’s one of the most important things we can focus on now as we grow agriculture in Nebraska.”

Al Juhnke, executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, said now is the time for Northeast to undertake the project.

“Northeast Community College is known not only regionally, but I would argue nationally, as a premiere two-year agricultural institution. So, that they have recognized the need to upgrade their facilities, I think the timing couldn’t be more perfect,” he said.

“Agriculture is the driver for our economy. Having a facility like this that’s upgraded and new and shiny not only will draw the students we need, but also help us as an ag industry with the workers we need.”

Phase I of the project calls for development of the site and construction of the initial new facilities, which could begin as early as Spring 2020 pending fundraising success. The Precision and Mechanized Agriculture facility has also been prioritized and planned for construction based on funds being raised, while additional facilities will be constructed as funds allow and fundraising success is achieved.

The campaign has already received a significant contribution. At Thursday’s kickoff event, Kruse announced a $5 million lead gift to the campaign by the Acklie Charitable Foundation.

“The Acklie Family College Farm will provide a lasting legacy to the family for their commitment to agriculture in northeast Nebraska,” she said.

The Acklie Charitable Foundation was founded by the late Duane W. Acklie, his wife Phyllis and daughters Dodie, Laura and Holly. Duane and Phyllis were alums of Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast Community College and have been involved in many business and philanthropic ventures over the years.

Halley Acklie Kruse, vice president and general counsel of the foundation, said family connections played a role in the Acklie Charitable Foundation’s decision to support the Nexus campaign.

“But, just as the campaign is about what is next – next for sustainable agriculture, next for Nebraska’s workforce, next for innovation – an important factor in ACF’s decision to support the Nexus campaign was the consideration of Nebraska’s future,” she said. “When Nebraska agriculture succeeds, Nebraska thrives. For these reasons ACF believed it was important to invest in the future of Nebraska’s next generation of farmers, ranchers, and community leaders.”

Tracy Kruse said the public is now invited to invest in the future of agriculture in northeast Nebraska by contributing to the Nexus campaign.

For those interested in contributing, online donations may be made through the website Checks may be mailed to: Nexus Campaign, Northeast Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 469, Norfolk, NE 68702-0469. Five year pledges are accepted, as are gifts of commodities and IRA (individual retirement account) distributions.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation Receives Grant to Provide Professional Development for Teachers

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation was awarded a grant from the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) to support the growth of agricultural literacy in pre-kindergarten-12th grade classrooms in Nebraska. Funding for the competitive grant program came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA/NIFA).

Nebraska’s project titled, “Learn, Then Do: A Phenomenon-Based Field Experience,” develops a model for a writer’s workshop for teachers to create Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) lessons using agriculture as the context for learning.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation’s Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom Program will provide Nebraska certified teachers from Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) a paid training opportunity to develop lessons that support Nebraska’s newly adopted science standards using real-life examples from Nebraska agriculture. A total of twenty teachers from LPS will be selected to pilot the program.

“This program will support LPS teachers in the shift of moving to the new Nebraska standards within agricultural topics,” said James Blake, science curriculum specialist at LPS. “I look forward to partnering with the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation on the project to achieve great science education for youth in LPS.”

The three-day workshop will start with training on phenomena-based learning and discussion about how Nebraska science standards and agriculture connect.

After spending a day learning how to write lessons that support the new standards, the teachers will spend a day touring farms and agribusinesses to find their own examples of science within agriculture.

The teachers will spend the final day working in small groups to write ten lessons based on the previous days’ ideas of science phenomena in agriculture. Teachers will present the finalized lessons to a wide audience of science teachers during workshops at the Nebraska Association of Teaching Science Conference.

“Through this project, teachers will explore how to make agriculture relevant and interesting to students while succeeding with the new science standards. The aim is to create lessons that are fun, meet the standards of rigor required at LPS, and clearly articulate the building blocks for success in the classroom,” said Courtney Schaardt, director of outreach education for the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation and program coordinator for the project.

The project is slated to start in March 2020 with the selection of the teachers and conclude in September 2020 for the 2020-2021 school year.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Lincoln Public Schools, the second largest school district in Nebraska, in an effort to provide thousands of students with accurate and reliable agricultural information aligned with Nebraska’s newly adopted science standards,” said Schaardt.

Annual Nebraska FFA Foundation Auction to be Held on September 11 at Husker Harvest Days and Online

Titan Tire Corporation, a subsidiary of Titan International, Inc., will be hosting a tire auction for the Nebraska FFA Foundation at Husker Harvest Days on Wednesday, September 11, 2019. In its seventh year, the 2019 auction will include a variety of tires on-site and online only bidding for a John Deere Gator and LSW Extreme Floatation Tires.

“We are so grateful for the support of Titan Tire, Graham Tire and the several John Deere dealers in the state for supporting the Nebraska FFA Foundation in this way. They, along with the bidders understand the value that this contribution makes for Nebraska FFA members, says Stacey Agnew. “These funds mean sustainability for the growing number of FFA chapters, members and advisors across the state.”

To participate in the live auction on Wednesday, September 11 at 11:00 am sign in at the Nebraska FFA Foundation registration desk for a bid number to bid in person or you can bid online. To learn more about the online bidding, go to

To participate in the online only auction for the John Deere Gator and LSW Extreme Flotation tires go to to view more details. Bidding ends Wednesday, September 11. The LSW tires will fit an 8000 series John Deere tractor.

The list of tires, gator information and details about the live auction and online only auction are available at

Lawmakers Call on Department of Agriculture to Cover Massive Irrigation Losses

Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), along with Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Representative Adrian Smith (R-NE), and Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), wrote to the Secretary of Agriculture, seeking crop insurance protection for producers hurt by the collapse of the Gering-Ft. Laramie-Goshen irrigation canal tunnel.

Senator Sasse says, “This should be pretty simple. This is a qualifying event to be covered by crop insurance, and Nebraskans are suffering right now. This is a big deal for farmers in Nebraska’s Panhandle — Secretary Perdue knows just how important Nebraska’s ag producers are to our nation. I urge the Department of Agriculture to move quickly to give farmers and ranchers relief. A lot of folks will go bankrupt unless the Risk Management Agency does what’s right.”

“On behalf of the producers in Wyoming and Nebraska,” wrote the lawmakers, “we request USDA Risk Management Agency evaluate available reports and make a prompt determination to qualify these extraordinary circumstances as an insurable event resulting from adverse weather conditions and failure of the irrigation water supply for purposes of crop insurance coverage.”

Before the collapse, the Gering-Ft. Laramie-Goshen irrigation canal tunnel transported water to more than 100,000 acres of land in Western Nebraska and Wyoming. The canal was built in 1910.

The letter to Secretary Perdue is available here and found below.

Dear Secretary Perdue:

We write requesting the United States Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency review the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the Nebraska and Wyoming irrigation tunnel collapse and determine this irrigation disruption to be an insurable event qualifying for crop insurance protection. It is our understanding the lack of irrigation supply is an insurable event within the rules and regulations of the Risk Management Agency. We request you make an expedited determination based on the ongoing lack of adequate water supply and its damaging effects on crop growth and maturity.

As you know, on July 17, 2019, a 2,200 foot long tunnel partially collapsed along the Fort Laramie Canal. This tunnel and canal system carries water served by the Goshen Irrigation District in Wyoming to the Gering-Fort Laramie Irrigation District in Nebraska. The water disruption has affected approximately 107,000 acres of corn, sugar beets, dry edible beans and alfalfa crops grown in the region.

This region relies on the availability of surface water irrigation. Since July 17, the canal has been inoperable and no water for irrigation of the agriculture acres has been available. Farmers in this region continue to care for their crops, but the lack of irrigation water and adequate supplemental rainfall has taken a serious toll on the planted areas, crop yields and crop quality. As farmers are moving toward harvest, it would be beneficial to know their crop insurance will cover crop losses that resulted from the lack of adequate water supply.

On behalf of the producers in Wyoming and Nebraska, we request USDA Risk Management Agency evaluate available reports and make a prompt determination to qualify these extraordinary circumstances as an insurable event resulting from adverse weather conditions and failure of the irrigation water supply for purposes of crop insurance coverage.

Thank you for your attention to this manner.

Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE)
Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE)
Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY)
Senator John Barrasso (R-WY)
Representative Adrian Smith (R-NE)
Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY)

Sasse Statement on Charges Against University of Kansas Researcher Who Hid Work for China

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement regarding the administration's decision to bring federal charges against a researcher at the University of Kansas who hid the fact he was working full time for a Chinese university while also working on U.S. government-funded research. 

"China’s largest export is espionage. The Chinese Communist Party’s university-to-Beijing pipeline is a serious national security problem. This is a no brainer: you can’t work for the Chinese government and our government at the same time. The Justice Department is right to go after this double-dipping."

Record High Red Meat and Pork Production in July

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.59 billion pounds in July, up 8 percent from the 4.24 billion pounds produced in July 2018.

By State    (million pounds - % July '18)

Nebraska ......:              680.1            104      
Iowa .............:              694.3            122      
Kansas ..........:              528.5            106      

Beef production, at 2.36 billion pounds, was 6 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.94 million head, up 6 percent from July 2018. The average live weight was down 4 pounds from the previous year, at 1,326 pounds.

Veal production totaled 6.3 million pounds, 2 percent above July a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 53,700 head, up 12 percent from July 2018. The average live weight was down 18 pounds from last year, at 205 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.21 billion pounds, up 11 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 10.6 million head, up 10 percent from July 2018. The average live weight was up 3 pounds from the previous year, at 280 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.9 million pounds, was down 1 percent from July 2018. Sheep slaughter totaled 188,300 head, 5 percent above last year. The average live weight was 127 pounds, down 7 pounds from July a year ago.

January to July 2019 commercial red meat production was 31.4 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2018. Accumulated beef production was up 1 percent from last year, veal was down slightly, pork was up 5 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 1 percent.

USDA Cold Storage July 2019 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on July 31, 2019 were up 3 percent from the previous month and up 1 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 12 percent from the previous month but down 6 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 3 percent from the previous month but up 9 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 7 percent from last month but up 37 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on July 31, 2019 were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 4 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 3 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 3 percent from last month but down 6 percent from July 31, 2018.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on July 31, 2019 were down 1 percent from the previous month and down 3 percent from July 31, 2018.  Butter stocks were up 1 percent from last month and up 4 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were up 18 percent from last month but down 18 percent from a year ago. Total frozen vegetable stocks were up 12 percent from last month but down 2 percent from a year ago.

Chinese Demand for Pork Rises with African Swine Fever, but U.S. Not a Major Supplier

African Swine Fever has decimated Chinese pork production and undoubtedly caused a significant increase in imports. But where the Chinese are getting their pork from may come as a surprise.

Since August 2018, China has lost at least 85 million head of hogs and almost 10 million sows, according to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China. Conversely, the country is importing far more pork than in recent years, with 1,805,220 metric tons committed to China through the first five months of 2019.

While the Chinese demand for pork may seem promising, the United States is actually only supplying about 8% of Chinese pork imports, according to the August edition of Ag Decision Maker, a monthly newsletter by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

In an article called “Who benefits most from China’s growing import demand due to African Swine Fever,” ISU Extension and Outreach economists conclude that the U.S. only accounts for about 8% of global pork exports to China so far this year.

The major beneficiaries, accounting for more than half of China’s pork imports since January 2018, are Germany, Spain, France and the United Kingdom.

The reduction in Chinese pork supply has also decreased the country’s demand for grain, according to the article. The feed grain demand by China from January through May 2019, is down by about 15% for soybeans and almost half for soy meal, compared to the same time last year.

The authors of the article, Wendong Zhang, assistant professor and extension economist at Iowa State, and Tao Xiong, associate professor of agricultural economics and management and a visiting CARD scholar at Iowa State, examine the impact of the current trade war with China, and also trade agreements from the past, as well as improvements in European transportation, which has led to increased purchases from those countries.

“A closer examination of the global meat trade reveals that Europe, not the U.S., benefits most from China’s growing demand due to ASF,” according to the authors, who acknowledge this is in part due to China’s better transportation system for reaching Europe via the new Belt and Road Initiative.

However, the authors conclude that trade, or lack of trade, is still the biggest factor for the U.S.

“U.S. pork, beef and poultry exports to China still have significant room for growth, and a trade deal with China would be a valuable first step.”

IFBF & Hawkeyes team up to provide "ANF Game Day On-Field Experience"

On October 12, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) and University of Iowa Hawkeyes will team up to celebrate Iowa’s farmers during the 9th annual America Needs Farmers (ANF) Game Day. As the Hawks take on the Penn State Nittany Lions, one lucky fan will win the experience of a lifetime including four tickets to the ANF game, an on-field sideline visit and a football autographed by Coach Kirk Ferentz.

For a chance to win, go to and click the “Enter to Win” tab on the “ANF Game Day On-Field Experience” page to take a short, multiple-choice quiz to see how Iowa farmers are responsibly and sustainably raising livestock which provide our daily diets with high-quality proteins. The contest will run Aug. 21 through Oct. 2 with the winner announced shortly after.

“The rich history and tradition of the ANF program has proven to be a great way to reach new audiences. Legendary Hawkeye Coach Hayden Fry created ANF in 1985 during the Farm Crisis which affected thousands of Iowa family farms and why Hawkeye greats continue to support the ‘America Needs Farmers’ campaign today,” said IFBF President Craig Hill. “We know Iowans love meat, and football tailgaters grilling up burgers, brats and chops are a testament to that. This contest, along with our farmer volunteers interacting with football fans at the game’s ANF Legends Tent, helps bring light to the innovative ways farmers care for their animals, putting health and the environment at the forefront of everything they do.”

During ANF Game Day, fans can stop by the ANF Legends Tent at Krause Family Plaza to meet the farmers who grow and raise their food and play games to win great prizes; they can also get autographs from former Hawkeye and NFL Greats. ANF merchandise will also be for sale in ANF Plaza with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Iowa Food Bank Association. For more information, visit

Federal Court Sends Illegal Water Rule Back to EPA

A federal court says the 2015 Waters of the United States rule is unlawful under the Clean Water Act because of its “vast expansion of jurisdiction over waters and land traditionally within the states’ regulatory authority.” The court for the Southern District of Georgia found the agency overstepped not just the CWA, but also the Administrative Procedure Act, which lays out the most basic rules governing how agencies may propose and establish federal regulations. The Georgia court kept in place a preliminary injunction preventing the rule from becoming effective in the 11 states involved with the lawsuit while the Environmental Protection Agency finalizes its own repeal and replacement of the 2015 rule.

The ruling was a victory not just for the plaintiff states, but a broad coalition of more than a dozen private sector groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“The court ruling is clear affirmation of exactly what we have been saying for the past five years,” AFBF General Counsel Ellen Steen said. “The EPA badly misread Supreme Court precedent. It encroached on the traditional powers of the states and simply ignored basic principles of the Administrative Procedure Act when it issued this unlawful regulation. The court found fault with the EPA’s interpretation of some of the most basic principles of the CWA, most importantly which waters the federal government may regulate, and which waters must be left to states and municipalities.”

Jurists repeatedly criticized the EPA’s handling of the rulemaking, in particular its interpretation of the Supreme Court’s “Rapanos” decision, which laid out guidelines for determining where federal jurisdiction begins and ends.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with a coalition of groups, urges repeal and replacement of the 2015 rule to ensure clean water and clear rules.

Corn Farmers Press Trump to Take Steps to Significantly Increase Corn Demand

National Corn Growers Assoc.

The impact of the Trump Administration’s recent granting of 31 refinery waivers to big oil is quickly being felt across the countryside, compounding farmer’s concerns about crop conditions, markets and trade.

In the last 12 months, 15 ethanol plants have been shuttered or idled, including POET’s Cloverdale facility which specifically cited the most recent waivers as the cause. Given this reduced demand, it is likely more closings will follow.

Recent press reports indicate the President is, rightly, rethinking this action and NCGA is continuing to work with members of his administration and ethanol advocates in Congress. This includes sharing solutions that would significantly boost corn demand.

President Trump’s actions on ethanol have cost 2,700 rural jobs and lost demand for more than 300 million bushels of corn as a result of the ethanol plant closures and slowing production. Since 2018, the 85 RFS exemptions granted to big oil refineries have totaled 4.04 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons of renewable fuel.

Redistributing and accounting for these waived gallons in the upcoming RVO rulemaking is just one step the Administration can take today, and farmers are encouraged to submit comments to the EPA on this issue. Farmers can also send a message directly to President Trump.

Farmers are facing a sixth consecutive year of depressed income and commodity prices and ongoing trade tariffs and negotiations show no sign of a resolution. Farmers are losing patience. They need a win and the President needs to remember his promises to America’s farmers.

Biodiesel on the Ropes after EPA Punches, But Support Leaves Soy Hopeful

It’s a federal program designed to increase markets for American farmers, decrease U.S. dependency on foreign oil, and curb the carbon footprint through reduced emissions. Yet, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is again taking hits this year from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the form of small refinery waivers and flat biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels volumes for 2020/2021 that, in effect, send the industry staggering backwards.

“These decisions are a one-two punch for the biofuel industry, and bottom line, farmers. But, we are heartened by the support we are getting from USDA and members of Congress, including Senator Grassley and many others speaking up and fighting for the RFS. They understand the value not just for biodiesel producers and soybean farmers, but rural economies, the environment, and U.S. consumers,” said Rob Shaffer, American Soybean Association (ASA) director and chair of the organization’s Biodiesel and Infrastructure Committee.

Immediately following EPA’s decision to allow 31 additional small refinery exemptions, one of the largest biodiesel producers in the country announced the shutdown of three plants located in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Mississippi. Other large producers have announced closings and laid off workers, with more closings and layoffs likely if these policies remain unstable.

Shaffer continued, “We may be reeling, but we are not KO’d. Congress can enact an extension of the biodiesel tax credit, and the administration can still get the RFS back on stable footing. This program, with their help, can accomplish what was intended: Higher levels of domestic, renewable fuels that enhance energy diversity and security; promotion of jobs and value for farmers and rural economies; and environmental benefits from reduced emissions.”

ASA asks that President Trump uphold his commitments to support the RFS and American farmers by increasing the RFS, and urges Congress to get the biodiesel tax credit extension completed. Retroactive waivers of RFS volumes, the zero growth proposed for future RFS volumes, and inaction on the biodiesel tax credit are all compounding pressure on a soybean industry already facing a down farm economy, the lingering trade war with China, and seasonal weather-related issues.

Ethanol Demand Destruction Clear to See as Consumption Wanes, Prices Fall and Plants Close

In a letter sent Thursday morning to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the Renewable Fuels Association challenged the federal agency on its claim there has been “zero evidence” that small refiner exemptions from Renewable Fuel Standard compliance obligations have had a negative impact on ethanol producers.

“Such a crass statement is entirely at odds with the facts and demonstrates a woeful lack of understanding about the actual marketplace implications of EPA decisions on small refiner exemption petitions,” wrote RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “The U.S. ethanol industry has indeed been negatively impacted by the dramatic increase in small refiner exemptions that have been issued by your Agency. U.S. ethanol consumption in 2018 was far below the level forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration at the start of the year. Further, 2018 domestic ethanol consumption fell from 2017 levels—the first year-over-year decline in 20 years. Ethanol’s share of U.S. gasoline consumption (the “blend rate”) also fell in 2018 relative to 2017, likely the first-ever annual decline in the blend rate.”

The EPA’s controversial August 19 statement came the same day as an Oval Office meeting where President Trump reportedly sought to “assuage farmer unrest” and “allay farm-state uproar” over the refinery exemptions, and only worked to further fuel farmer and ethanol industry concerns.

“On the very same day your Agency suggested there is ‘zero evidence’ of demand destruction, two major ethanol producers announced they were idling production,” Cooper wrote. “In fact, in the week following EPA’s August 9 announcement that 31 more SREs had been approved, ethanol prices plunged 18 cents per gallon (12 percent), corn prices fell 47 cents per bushel (11 percent), and RIN credit values dropped from the already-low level of 20 cents to just 12 cents (43 percent). All told, the August 9 announcement alone could result in a staggering $10 billion transfer of wealth from the agriculture and biofuel sectors to the oil industry. There’s your evidence of demand destruction.”

With the letter, RFA also submitted to Wheeler a short background document providing further evidence of waiver-induced demand destruction.

“I respectfully encourage you to review this information, especially the statements of numerous ethanol company executives regarding the negative impacts of SREs,” Cooper wrote. “No one is more qualified to provide perspective on the economic impacts of SREs than those who participate in these markets every day. I hope you take their views to heart and ask your staff to revisit whatever analysis it conducted that ultimately led to the absurd conclusion of ‘zero evidence’ of negative market impacts from SREs.”

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