Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Tuesday January 4 Ag News


If you are interested in agriculture and farming, this year’s Triumph of Ag Expo is the place to be on March 2-3, 2022. Exhibits are open 9 AM to 4 PM on Wednesday and 9 AM to 3 PM on Thursday. In addition to all of the latest equipment, products, and services, see antique farm tractors and equipment, and enjoy special programs.

The Expo has something for every kind of farm operation, including tillage equipment, planters, monitor and control systems, soil testing equipment, mowers, cattle chutes, augers, fertilizers, various seed hybrids, feeders, tanks and pumps, hay moving and handling equipment, plows, combines, computers and software, tractors, and many more agricultural products and services for today’s farmers and ranchers.

“The Triumph of Ag Expo is always packed with lots of new improvements and helpful information” says Brent Pohlman from Midwest Laboratories. At no other time this spring will area Farm Operators be able to see this much farm equipment and technology on display. The 2022 Expo is excited to have RFD TV coverage leading up to and during this year’s Expo. New features for the first time include a designated area showcasing “Innovations in Farming.” “It’s an excellent opportunity to see all types of Short-Line farm equipment, new products, labor and time saving ideas all under one roof,” says Mike Mancuso, the Show’s Producer. “The Triumph of Ag Expo is the best place for farmers to find answers for what they do control while taking advantage of the new technologies with hands-on experience. The show will continue to feature educational seminars, new technologies with the old reliable that are so popular in the industry.”

The Triumph of Agriculture Exposition established the Annual “Agri-Award” as part of Nebraska’s Centennial Celebration, in 1976 to recognize outstanding organizations and individuals that have contributed to the Agricultural Development in the Midwestern area. This year’s winners are Ken Pohlman, Founder of Midwest Laboratories, and Don Bacon, US Congressman, will receive their awards at a Special Presentation at 12 Noon, during the Luncheon on Wednesday, March 2 at the CHI Health Center Omaha. For those interested in attending the Luncheon call 402-346-8003, $15.00 per person.

Ken Pohlman, Founder – Midwest Laboratories

      Ken Pohlman’s laboratory career has spanned 58 years, (1962-2020).  Ken’s background in soil physics and agronomy led him early in his career to manage analytical testing labs. He gained tremendous knowledge in areas like soils, feeds, fertilizer, and plants. Ken’s experience in the lab and ag retail business prepared him for his ultimate venture of starting a new lab, A&L Midwest Labs in Omaha, NE in 1975. As the lab grew, it became apparent the location at 120th and Center was quickly going to be too small and in 1978 the decision was made to move to the 136th and B Street location. From here, Ken purchased the company from Midwest Labs and grew its current campus in 2020 to 14 buildings, from A Street to C Street. The company is currently in the process of moving to a new campus in Papillion.  

       Midwest Laboratories, under Ken’s direction, has grown and flourished. Soil sample volumes have grown exponentially over the years. In 2020, soil sample volumes hit an all-time record of 1,800,000 soil samples received. In addition, the company expanded into other industries including municipality drinking water/wastewater, pet food, food safety/microbiology and ethanol and has a total employee count of 218 employees.   Ken has turned over the leadership of Midwest Laboratories to his son, Brent who continues to build on his father’s legacy.

Don Bacon – U.S. Congressman

Growing up and working on a farm in Illinois, Congressman Don Bacon learned first-hand how the value of hard work and commitment contributes to the success of a small business. He moved from the family farm to attend Northern Illinois University, from which he graduated with a Bachelors of Political Science in 1984, the same year he married Angie, the love of his life. They have three sons, one daughter, and six grandchildren. One year later, he began his military career by joining the U.S. Air Force and serving nearly 30 years, ultimately retiring as a Brigadier General. Rep. Don Bacon (NE-02) has been named as Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations. The subcommittee addresses policies and statutes relating to nutrition, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and domestic commodity distribution and consumer initiatives, as well as department agency oversight and special investigations.

       “During this pandemic, more families are struggling to put food on the table as they suffer job losses and income reductions. I am looking forward to working on how we can best make nutrition and domestic food assistance programs more efficient and effective so families most in need will get the assistance these programs were intended to provide,” said Rep. Bacon.

THE TRIUMPH OF AGRICULTURE EXPOSITION FARM & RANCH MACHINERY SHOW is produced by Mid-America Expositions, Inc. and is sponsored by the Mid-America Farm & Ranch Machinery Council with members including Doug Carr – University of NE Foundation – Nebraska Agri-Business, Mike Hansen – RFD TV, Clare Duda – Farmer, Karla James – KLIN, Ron Roskens – Global Connection, John Hansen – NE Farmers’ Union, Deanna Ray – Midwest Messenger, Ben Hellbusch – Busch Equipment, Brent Pohlman – Midwest Laboratories – Omaha Agri-Business, Bob Mancuso Jr.– Omaha Agri-Business, Carrie Duffy – Greater Omaha Chamber – Ag Council, Roger Wehrbein – Nebraska State Senator – Farmer, and Chris Sidles – Farm Market ID.

Fuel Stations and Drivers Raise $10K for Buffett Cancer Center

In the past four years, fuel retailers across Nebraska have joined forces to raise nearly $30,000 for cancer research as part of “Fuel the Cure.” During October, when drivers chose higher blends of ethanol fuel like E15, E30 and E85 at participating retail locations, gas stations donated 3 cents for each gallon sold toward cancer research. This year, the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha received $10,827.61.
“Donations to cancer research truly make a difference,” said Jenn Klein, a wife, mother, and breast cancer survivor. “I’m thankful funding was available to discover treatment before I needed it, or I might not be here today.”
When Klein was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32, her cancer cells were growing and dividing at a rate of about 80%. Treatment was needed immediately. A funded researcher discovered two of the four chemotherapy treatments she underwent.
While biofuels and cancer research may seem like an unlikely pairing, it is a known fact that using more biofuels leads to less air pollution. According to the American Lung Association, up to 70% of ground-level ozone-forming pollutants come from mobile-source emissions such as our cars.
Some chemicals in gasoline are the same carcinogens found in tobacco, which are linked to cancer. Higher blends of biofuels dilute the toxicity and help reduce cancer-causing aromatics released from tailpipe emissions. Ethanol-blended fuels also reduce greenhouse gases by nearly 50%.
“Ethanol producers and sellers have been the biggest proponents of providing an environmentally friendlier way to power our vehicles for many years,” said Jessica Sodeke, program manager for the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “We commend these retailers for making higher ethanol blends available and giving consumers a choice in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. Supporting ‘Fuel the Cure’ is a step beyond because the funds are directly impacting lives of patients at the Buffett Cancer Center.”
Drivers who choose ethanol at the pump often see a price break, and their use of ethanol supports Nebraska’s rural communities and the entire Nebraska economy. To find a location near you, visit fueledbynebraska.com.
“Fueling up with higher blends of ethanol, like E15, E30 and E85, is one of the easiest ways consumers can reduce their carbon footprint and create a healthier environment for everyone,” Sodeke said.
E15, also called Unleaded88, is approved for use in passenger vehicles 2001 and newer. Nebraska has approximately 200,000 registered flex fuel vehicles, which can run on any blend of ethanol up to E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). Drivers can check their owner’s manual to see if they’re driving a flex fuel vehicle. The vehicle might also have a flex fuel badge on the trunk or tailgate — or a yellow gas cap.
Nebraska ethanol organizations are already preparing for Fuel the Cure 2022 and would encourage Nebraska fuel retailers who sell higher ethanol blends to reach out to Jessica Sodeke, Nebraska Ethanol Board program manager, at Jessica.sodeke@nebraska.gov for more information about participating. Donations are also accepted from others interested in supporting this cause, including cancer organizations and ethanol facilities. Please reach out to Sodeke if you are interested in joining the team.
The Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Ethanol Board, and Renewable Fuels Nebraska sponsor “Fuel the Cure” in conjunction with retail stations. To see the full list of stations that donated funds, visit www.fueledbynebraska.com/pink.

Natural Resources Districts Reflect on 50 Years

Throughout 2022, Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) will celebrate 50 years of protecting lives, property and the future. During the next 12 months, the NRDs will commemorate breakthroughs and achievements in conservation.

“In the past 50 years, NRDs have adapted while facing changes in technology, funding, legislation, agencies and society,” said Jim Eschliman, Nebraska Association of Resources Districts president. “Nebraska’s locally led conservation model has been a successful legacy because of our ability to adapt to the local needs of our communities.”

After the devastation of the Dust Bowl, special purpose districts were developed to solve local soil and water-related problems. But the puzzle of overlapping authorities and responsibilities provided confusion at best.

In 1969, Senator Maurice Kremer introduced legislative bill 1357 to combine Nebraska’s 154 special purpose entities into 24 Natural Resources Districts by July 1972. In 1989, The Middle Missouri Tributaries NRD and the Papio NRD merged to become the Papio-Missouri River NRD resulting in today’s 23 Natural Resources Districts.

Today, Nebraska’s unique system of locally controlled, watershed-based conservation is widely admired throughout the nation. In recent years, at least 11 states ranging from Washington to Arkansas and Illinois to California, have inquired about applying a similar system for natural resources management. Despite being the No. 1 irrigated state in the nation, Nebraska’s statewide groundwater levels have been sustained at levels less than a foot below pre-irrigation development in the 1950s. In many areas, groundwater levels are higher.

“Many states are facing massive groundwater declines with almost depleted aquifers,” Eschliman said. “NRDs work with irrigators to monitor water use, establish groundwater recharge projects, and implement water-wise programs. Depending on rainfall, Nebraska’s groundwater levels often rise above pre-development levels.”

Across the state, NRDs construct projects, implement programs and offer a major source of assistance to landowners in conservation and natural resources management. When necessary, they enact regulations to protect our resources. While all NRDs share the 12 main responsibilities, each district sets its own priorities and develops its own programs to best serve and protect Nebraska’s natural resources.

Eschliman noted that Nebraska’s NRDs will continue to build upon, refine, and adapt as they look to the future.

“Conservation is something that impacts us all and we need to pitch in and be good stewards of our land and water,” he said. “Locally elected NRD boards across the state are uniquely positioned in their communities to help manage our natural resources for future generations.”

To join in the 50th anniversary celebration and follow the Natural Resources Districts’ special activities throughout 2022, visit nrdnet.org and follow #Since1972 on social media.


Since its beginning in 1989, the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network has helped producers, in partnership with Nebraska Extension, analyze experiments suited to the specific conditions of their fields. This collaboration has boosted agronomic understanding, as well as producer profits. On-Farm Experimentation, or OFE, is a growing phenomenon worldwide, and a new journal article co-authored by a Nebraska Extension specialist explains that global dimension and the opportunities to better coordinate conventional agronomic research with producer-generated findings and analysis.

Laura Thompson, an extension educator with wide-ranging experience with the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network, joined contributors from Canada, Argentina, the United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Malaysia and China in writing “On-Farm Experimentation to transform global agriculture.” The article appears in the journal Nature Food.

OFE now comprises “a distinct and growing community of practice” worldwide, with more than 30,000 farms participating in more than 30 countries, the article estimates. Unlike Nebraska’s On-Farm Research Network, OFE initiatives are usually relatively recent. An international network involved in 11 OFE initiatives across the world formed to expand understanding of the approach and its momentum.

Such farm-derived data and analysis provide “an opportunity for agricultural experts to complement conventional agronomy research by working with the dynamic farm management that exists in the real world,” the article says. Through this focus on “locally appropriate knowledge,” Thompson and her co-authors write, OFE can accompany “a paradigm shift” by which producers are active contributors to deepening agronomic understanding worldwide.

Nebraska has seen the benefits from such an approach over the past three decades, Thompson said. Among the notable successes: the knowledge gained for soybean production, including seeding rates and planting times. Planting earlier helped boost yields, and use of a smaller volume of seed helped reduce costs. Another success is improved nitrogen management using precision technologies, enabling better profits and reduced environmental impact.

About 70 Nebraska producers are currently participating in the On-Farm Research Network, totaling about 100 On-Farm Experiments since multiple projects are underway at some farms.

Farmer-centric On-Farm Experimentation, the Nature Food article says, can play a major role in realizing the benefits from ag-focused digitalization.

Nebraska On-Farm Research shows how digital technologies enable precision data collection, opening up important opportunities for producers to fine-tune management within a field, Thompson said. “Farmers can conduct their research more conveniently,” she said, “and at the same time we can generate more research data and address more site-specific situations rather than managing one field as a single unit.”

Overall, OFE can strengthen global production in four ways, Thompson and her fellow contributors write. First, by providing new tools for collaborative understanding of real-world needs and practices. Second, by emphasizing flexibility, so that research practices can best address local conditions. Third, by adding value for producers. Fourth, by introducing disruption, to achieve “new ways of learning” about appropriate agricultural and innovation practice, and sharing that knowledge on a global scale.

Enabling those new ways of learning, the article says, will require building stronger connections between the agriculture community’s “theoreticians and practitioners” — scientists,farmers and other agricultural stakeholders — in a cross-fertilization of ideas and approaches. By setting that new scientific foundation, the authors say, global agriculture can advance to new heights.


- Todd Whitney, NE Extension

Successful alfalfa production begins with proper decisions regarding cultivar selection; weeds / insects & diseases control; water management; and a good fertility program. Although some growers may still use 3 tons per acre as their alfalfa yield goal, many producers (especially irrigators) may now be using 6 or 9 tons per acre for their target yield goals.
Due to high fertilizer prices, soil testing will likely improve fertilizer return on investments for the upcoming growing season. Since alfalfa roots absorb most nutrients such as phosphate and potassium from the top 6 to 8 inches of soil, surface and shallow subsoil soil sampling will likely provide adequate nutrient availability assessment.
Alfalfa is more sensitive to pH than other crops; and grows best at 6.8 soil pH with a pH range from 6.5 to 7.5. If alfalfa fields have low pH or strong acid content, then lime may be required used to raise pH. Conversely, if lab results indicate high pH levels, then sulfur can be applied to help lower pH levels.
Alfalfa hay harvest removes about 55 pounds of potassium per ton of production. Potassium is also needed by alfalfa in high quantities and about 1/3 of Nebraska fields now test low for potassium. Phosphorus removal in alfalfa forage averages 12 pounds per ton of production. While sulfur and magnesium removal is about 5-6 pounds per ton of alfalfa produced.
To extend fertilizer investment dollars, consider topdressing nutrients immediately after forage harvest before regrowth resumes. Split apply fertilizer applications with topdress fertilization following first cutting and in early September to increase winter hardiness.


NEW Cooperative’s Annual Meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 at the Webster County Fairgrounds, at 4:00 p.m.  Agenda includes the President’s report, the Year in Review, introduction of scholarship recipients and guest speaker Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director of Soy Transportation Coalition.  A meal will follow adjournment of meeting.

Reynolds Signs Harvest Proclamation Extension

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an extension to the proclamation relating to the weight limits and transportation of grain.  The proclamation continues through Jan. 29.  The proclamation allows vehicles transporting corn, soybeans, hay, straw, silage and stover to be overweight (not exceeding 90,000 pounds gross weight) without a permit for the duration of this proclamation.

This proclamation applies to loads transported on all highways within Iowa (excluding the interstate system) and those which do not exceed a maximum of 90,000 pounds gross weight, do not exceed the maximum axle weight limit determined under the non-primary highway maximum gross weight table in section 321.463 (6)(b) of the Iowa Code by more than 12.5 percent, do not exceed the legal maximum axle weight limit of 20,000 pounds, and comply with posted limits on roads and bridges.

Governor Kim Reynolds to Address the 2022 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) is excited to announce Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is once again joining the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit on January 25.

“It is critical that Iowa, the nation’s leader in ethanol and biodiesel production, promotes this vital industry,” said Gov. Reynolds. “We must control our own destiny through pro-growth policies and not rely on the federal government to do so. I look forward to attending the Summit and sharing my vision for the future of renewable fuels in our state and across the country.”

IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw said at a time when so much is at stake for biofuel producers, a champion like Reynolds is needed.

“Whether we are talking about growing biofuel use here in Iowa or expanding consumer access to higher blends around the country, Governor Reynolds has been at the tip of the spear fighting for us,” Shaw said. “She has led many initiatives to expand market opportunities and support Iowa biofuels because she understands how crucial biofuels are to Iowa’s prosperity.”

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit is taking place on January 25 at the Community Choice Convention Center at the Iowa Events Center. Attendance is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register to attend and learn more, visit IowaRenewablFuelsSummit.org.

NPB CEO Shares Organization's 2022 Priorities

Bill Even, CEO, National Pork Board

In 2022, the National Pork Board will focus on five goals, which are all based on strengthening collaboration with partners across the industry.

1. Support a Coordinated National Strategy for FAD Prevention and Preparedness
This year, the Pork Checkoff will focus on providing the necessary research and resources to support this coordination. The key will be the adoption of AgView, which is a free, pig contact-tracing platform developed for producers using Pork Checkoff funds.

2. Expand on Real Pork Trust and Image Brand
Last year, we had success showing ground pork as a great alternative to other items in the meat case. We also had great success reaching consumers across the country through our Rural Dictionary Mythbusting campaign. This year, we’re going to expand on that success into e-commerce and drive home our mythbusting efforts.

3. Establish U.S. Pork as a Global Leader in Sustainable Ag
 This month, we’ll release a national pork industry sustainability report introducing 12 goals and metrics by which the goals will be measured, all grounded in the 6 We Care® ethical principles. All pork producers are encouraged to get involved in on-farm sustainability reports. This will enable NPB to help tell your story.

4. Continue Grassroots Engagement with the States
State associations are key to the pork industry's success. Last year, NPB worked with states on grants, environmental questions, foreign animal disease prevention and preparedness and consumer outreach efforts. The board of directors was so pleased, they have allocated $1.5 million in 2022 to take that even further.

5. Diversify International Portfolio
In 2022, we will focus on U.S. Pork and how it shows up in 6 foreign markets compared to alternatives. We’ll leverage our strong partnerships with USMEF, National Pork Producers Council, the USDA and others. We’re excited about our value proposition, and we’re hopeful our producer leaders will be able to travel and tell that story personally.

Houston to Host Largest NCBA Trade Show Ever

The NCBA Trade Show held during the 2022 Cattle Industry Convention will be the largest ever, encompassing nearly 10 acres of exhibitors, displays and educational experiences all under one roof. Make plans to attend this year’s event in Houston, Texas, Feb. 1-3.

The NCBA Trade Show offers attendees opportunities to network, learn, shop, dine and connect with friends, both old and new. It is a solutions center featuring more than 350 exhibitors that can help producers with animal health products, equipment, irrigation technology, software, trailers and so much more. In addition to finding the right product or service to solve any problem, there are a variety of educational opportunities within the show.

New this year is RanchHOW, a hands-on workshop offering a unique way to learn and network with attendees and exhibitors. Learning Lounge sessions offer valuable educational tips where busy attendees can enjoy informal face-to-face talks right on the trade show floor. The popular Stockmanship & Stewardship Demonstration Arena returns with stockmanship experts Dr. Ron Gill, Dean Fish and Curt Pate providing low-stress cattle handling demonstrations, Beef Quality Assurance educational sessions, industry updates and facility design sessions.

Back by popular demand is the Chutes and Scales Showdown where producers can watch cattle run through chutes, side-by-side, then get hands-on experience with the equipment. This is an opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the top manufacturers in the industry, learn about new technology on both manual and hydraulic chutes and find the right piece of equipment to fit your ranch needs.

The trade show experience continues each afternoon with daily receptions. Networking activities such as the Whiskey Tasting reception on Wednesday and Pups & Suds Yappy Hour on Thursday extend the trade show into the evenings. If you are looking for a refreshing beverage and a little puppy love, this is the place to be.

“Whether you are interested in shopping, learning or networking, the NCBA Trade Show offers something for everyone,” said Kristin Torres, NCBA executive director for meetings and events. “Be sure to spend some time at the trade show to experience something you’ll never forget.”

A variety of registration options are available including trade show only and single day tickets, which include show access, lunch, receptions and educational activities. For more information and to register and reserve housing, visit convention.ncba.org.

U.S. Triumphs in USMCA Dispute with Canada Over Dairy Market Access

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) celebrated a landmark decision published today which found Canada is improperly restricting access to its market for U.S. dairy products in violation of its U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) commitments. The case is the first of any kind brought before a USMCA Dispute Settlement Panel and was launched with broad bipartisan support last May at the urging of NMPF and USDEC. NMPF and USDEC urged Canada to comply swiftly with the panel’s ruling.

“The United States and Canada negotiated specific market access terms covering a wide variety of dairy products, but instead of playing by those mutually agreed upon rules, Canada ignored its commitments. As a result, U.S. dairy farmers and exporters have been unable to make full use of USMCA’s benefits,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Today’s decision is an important victory for U.S. dairy farmers and the millions of Americans whose jobs are tied to the U.S. dairy industry. America’s dairy farmers appreciate the Biden Administration’s dedication to preserving dairy export opportunities and the many members of Congress that have also stressed the importance of aggressive enforcement of dairy access rights in our trade agreements.”

"On behalf of America's dairy farmers and manufacturers, we want to thank Ambassador Katherine Tai for launching the dispute settlement process and Congressional leaders for strongly supporting the need to uphold USMCA’s dairy provisions. We expect Canada to abide by its trade commitments so that the American dairy industry can fully access the Canadian markets just as USMCA promised," said Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC. “While this is an essential victory, it is one step in a much longer journey. Our work to uphold the full benefits of USMCA continues, as we strive to reduce supply chain disruptions for our exports and ensure Mexico’s adherence to the dairy provisions of the USMCA, among other key matters.”

TRQs are a system of tariffs negotiated between countries that allow a predetermined quantity of imports at a specified tariff rate, where that rate is often at or near zero. Any additional imports above that predetermined quantity are subject to significantly higher tariffs. In the case of U.S. dairy products, these additional Canadian tariffs typically price U.S. dairy products out of Canada’s market, making fair access to Canadian dairy TRQs vital to maximizing exports to that market.

When the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) brought the case in May 2021 following persistent advocacy from NMPF and USDEC, it argued that Canada has maintained dairy TRQ measures that run counter to its market access obligations under USMCA. USMCA specifically requires that Canada open its TRQ application process to anyone active in the Canadian food and agriculture sector. Yet USTR noted that Canada designates the bulk of the TRQs to Canadian dairy processors who have little incentive to import, does not provide fair or equitable procedures for administering the TRQs, and does not give retailers any access to the TRQs. These measures deny the ability of U.S. dairy farmers, workers, and exporters to utilize the TRQs and realize the full benefits of the USMCA.

While the United States tried to resolve the matter through consultations with Canada before initiating the Dispute Settlement Panel, Canada refused to change its policies. NMPF and USDEC engaged USTR and Congress, achieving broad bipartisan support from more than 125 members of the House and Senate for bringing this matter to the USMCA Dispute Settlement Panel. There, a panel of legal experts evaluated Canada’s current dairy trade policies against its commitments under USMCA and found Canada was not meeting its USMCA obligations.

NCGA to EPA: Renewable Fuel Standard Important to Farmers, Helps Lower Emissions

Timely implementation of meaningful Renewable Fuels Standard volumes provides certainty in agriculture markets, reduces emissions and lowers fuel prices, NCGA told U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials today during the agency’s public hearing on proposed RFS volume standards for 2022 and 2021 and proposed reconsideration of 2020 volumes.

“Corn farmers produce low-carbon feedstock for low-carbon ethanol, offering immediate and affordable emissions reductions and a vital pathway for agriculture to help address climate change,” NCGA President Chris Edgington told EPA. “But our success helping you meet these commitments depends on EPA sending a clear and firm message that volume requirements will be enforced.”

Edgington urged EPA to move quickly to finalize the strong 2022 volume proposal and the denial of pending RFS waiver petitions, actions that would put more clean fuels in the market and repair RFS integrity. He also told EPA that proposed retroactive cuts to 2020 volumes would undermine the 2022 proposal and reward the use of more oil in place of cleaner renewables, asking the agency to avoid the precedent of reopening final volumes.

“As EPA finalizes and enforces the delayed 2022 RFS volumes and puts the RFS on track, we ask you to work with us to achieve greater emission reductions and cleaner air through use of more renewable, sustainable, affordable ethanol,” said Edgington.

Skor Testifies Before EPA on Proposed 2020, 2021, and 2022 RVOs

Today, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor testified before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its proposed rule for 2020, 2021, and 2022 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs). On December 7, 2021, EPA proposed RVOs that would undercut blending requirements for renewable, low-carbon biofuel in 2021, and would retroactively waive 2.96 billion gallons from 2020 RVOs finalized almost two years ago. Under the proposal, 2022 volumes return to statutory levels and the administration pledges to deny all improper small refinery exemption (SRE) applications.

“During the previous administration, the small refinery exemption program undercut the goals of the RFS, preventing EPA from ensuring the RVO was met each year,” said Skor. “We appreciate the agency’s work to end this abuse and return to a true implied conventional volume of 15 billion gallons in 2022, along with promoting strong growth in advanced biofuels. We are also pleased that the agency has finally proposed to restore the first 250 million gallons illegally waived in the 2016 RVO with a commitment on the second 250 million gallons for 2023.  

“EPA’s proposal, however, has some serious flaws that need to be addressed. It sets an extremely troubling precedent of revising finalized volumes for 2020 and back-setting volumes for 2021 rather than driving growth in renewable fuels. The proposed retroactive cuts to 2020 exceed EPA’s legal authority, and negatively impact the entire agriculture and fuel supply chains.   

“EPA should return integrity to the RFS program and remove hurdles to the use of higher biofuel blends as follows:   

“First, leave 2020 RVOs as finalized in 2019, set the conventional 2021 and 2022 RVOs in line with the statute, and finalize the rulemaking as expeditiously as possible.  

“Next, EPA should move quickly to finalize its proposed denial of pending small refinery exemptions.

“The Biden Administration simply cannot meet its climate goals without strong blending requirements for low-carbon biofuel. But if the administration enforces the RFS as promised, it can be a powerful tool for keeping America on the path to a net-zero emission future.”

Additionally, on Monday, Growth Energy submitted comments to EPA on its November 18, 2021 proposal to extend RVO compliance deadlines for 2019, 2020, and 2021 RVOs. The 2019 RVO compliance deadline for small refineries was set for November 30, 2021, and the 2020 RVO compliance deadline for all obligated parties is currently set for January 31, 2022.

RFA: EPA Moving in Right Direction on RFS, But Must Reconsider Retroactive Cut to 2020 RVO

In a virtual hearing on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed renewable volume obligations for 2020 through 2022, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper noted that EPA’s proposal marks “an important and long-awaited step toward restoring order, integrity and stability to the Renewable Fuel Standard program.” However, Cooper noted in his testimony, there is plenty of room to improve the proposal before it is finalized.

“RFA supports the proposed volumes for 2022 for all categories of renewable fuel, and we specifically commend EPA for proposing to set the implied requirement for conventional renewable fuels at the statutory level of 15 billion gallons,” Cooper said. “We also support EPA’s proposal to account for projected exempt volumes from small refineries when setting RVO percentages. And, RFA agrees with EPA that, ‘in the interest of transparency,’ the Agency should release basic information about entities seeking exemptions from RFS compliance.” Cooper also voiced RFA’s strong support for EPA’s related proposal to deny 65 pending small refinery exemption petitions.

Unfortunately, however, EPA’s proposed RVO for 2021 misses the mark and the proposed retroactive revision of the 2020 RVO would set a “dangerous precedent,” Cooper said.

“As for the 2021 RVO and the proposed revision to the 2020 RVO, we have serious concerns about EPA’s questionable use of its ‘reset’ authority,” Cooper said. “While we understand EPA has a statutory obligation to consider resetting future RFS volumes when certain thresholds are met, it does not appear that Congress intended for EPA to use its reset authority for the purpose of retroactively addressing unforeseen market anomalies like COVID or weather-related disasters.”

Even if EPA's use of its reset authority to lower 2020 and 2021 volumes was justified, the agency grossly underestimated actual conventional ethanol consumption in 2021, Cooper said. The Energy Information Administration’s latest data suggest 13.73 billion gallons of conventional ethanol were consumed domestically in 2021, more than 400 million gallons higher than assumed by EPA.

When it comes to the impact of COVID on 2020 RFS compliance, the RVO already includes a self-correcting mechanism that caused actual renewable fuel volume requirements to adjust lower with reduced gasoline and diesel consumption. In addition, EPA has long been on the record opposing retroactive reductions in volumes. EPA has repeatedly stated that “Congress…did not provide a means for correcting the percentage standards after November to ensure that the applicable volumes of renewable fuel are exactly met in a given compliance year.” The agency has also previously taken the position that “…periodically and retroactively altering the standards would…inappropriately render the standards a moving target.”

Also testifying at today’s hearing are RFA Board Secretary Rick Schwarck of Absolute Energy and board members Jeff Oestmann of Granite Falls Energy, David Sovereign of Golden Grain Energy and Derek Peine of Western Plan Energy, as well as Lindsay Fitzgerald of member company Gevo.

NBB Testifies on Proposed RFS Reset for 2020, 2021 and 2022

Today, member company representatives and staff of the National Biodiesel Board testified on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Renewable Fuel Standard rule for 2020, 2021 and 2022 volumes. The industry representatives welcomed proposed growth for 2022, urged EPA to maintain the integrity of the program, and asked the agency to avoid further or future delays in setting annual volumes.

Donnell Rehagen, NBB’s CEO, highlighted the clean fuels industry’s readiness to meet higher volumes and thanked EPA for restoring improperly waived volumes from 2016. “During these past two years, the biodiesel industry worked hard to meet Americans’ growing demand for better, cleaner fuels,” Rehagen testified. “In 2020, the U.S. biomass-based diesel and renewable diesel market grew to 3 billion gallons – its highest volume ever – and generated more than 4.5 billion advanced biofuel credits. Through the first 11 months of 2021, the industry has maintained a sustainable production rate comparable to 2020.”

Kate Shenk, NBB’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, also welcomed proposed growth in 2022, adding, “We want to ensure that the BBD volume is fully met each year and continues to reflect growth in biomass-based diesel production. We also hope that EPA continues to create room for growth in the overall advanced pool, since some additional advanced biofuels are co-products of biomass-based diesel.”

NBB and its members also emphasized the uncertainty created by EPA’s proposed reset of 2020 volumes and proposed – rather than outright – denial of small refinery exemptions. “Today’s proposal -- while positive for future years’ growth -- continues to undermine the industry and bow to the pressures of the refiners,” said David Cobb, NBB’s Director of Federal Affairs. “The fact that this proposed rule opens another comment period for SREs just adds additional delays in finalizing a rule that is already late.”

NBB further urged EPA to quickly propose 2023 RFS volumes, which were due under the statute on November 30, 2021.

The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industry supports 65,000 U.S. jobs and more than $17 billion in economic activity each year. Every 100 million gallons of production supports 3,200 jobs and $780 million in economic opportunity. Biodiesel production supports approximately 13 percent of the value of each U.S. bushel of soybeans.

ACE Testimony Encourages EPA to Revise RFS Proposal to Support the Statute and Decarbonization Goals

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings testified today during a virtual public hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rulemaking for 2020, 2021 and 2022 compliance years.

Jennings’ testimony highlights how refiners lull EPA into helping them escape their legal responsibility to blend increasing volumes of renewable fuel. When viewed in isolation, certain provisions in the proposal are a positive shift away from EPA’s prior mismanagement of the RFS, but the proposal in totality neglects to emphasize the role grain-based ethanol can play in helping meet the administration’s decarbonization goals.

ACE is pleased EPA proposed a statutory 15 billion gallons for 2022 and put forth a plan to remedy the 500 million gallons in remanded volume by the DC Circuit Court in 2017. However, ACE strongly opposes EPA’s proposal to retroactively waive 2020 volumes and reduce 2021 volumes. As currently drafted, the proposal does not guarantee 15 billion gallons of low carbon ethanol will be used in 2022.

“… EPA’s ongoing obsession with maximum compliance flexibility for refiners means excess RINs can be used to meet future obligations instead of the physical blending of E15 and higher blends,” Jennings stated in his testimony.

The testimony also notes the legal dubiousness of retroactively and gratuitously reducing 2020 volumes below actual use. “This approach essentially shifts more of the pandemic burden from refiners to ethanol producers and farmers by allowing gallons already sold to be counted against 2022 volumes,” Jennings explained.

As the RFS is the only tool at EPA’s disposal to replace petroleum with low carbon alternatives, ACE’s written comments to the proposed rulemaking will underscore the need for EPA to send a meaningful signal that grain-based ethanol is considered part of the climate solution.

ACE thanks its board president Dave Sovereign representing Golden Grain Energy LLC, and ACE board members Rick Schwarck of Absolute Energy LLC and Richard Syverson representing the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, along with members Jeff Oestmann of Granite Falls Energy LLC and Jerry Calease for testifying today. EPA’s comment period on the proposed RVOs closes on February 4.

Sorghum Exports Close 2021 with Marketing-Year High Commitments and Shipments

U.S. Department of Agriculture data issued December 16, 2021, showed U.S. sorghum new export sales commitments the previous week were a marketing-year high of 16.6 million bushels with the vast majority of the sales attributed to China.

The sales reported the week of December 16 were up 27 percent from the previous week and up 57 percent from the prior four-week average. In addition to a marketing-year high in sorghum sales, 12.4 million bushels were shipped primarily to China, another marketing-year high, up considerably from the previous week and up 81 percent from the prior four-week average.

“Export demand for U.S. sorghum, particularly from China, remains very strong as indicated by this recent export sales report,” National Sorghum Producers CEO Tim Lust said. “This marketing-year high is very assuring as we wrap up one growing season and head into the next, all the while as we continue to increase and diversify demand and development of new markets internationally and domestically for sorghum farmers.”

Purchases of U.S. sorghum as of the December 16 export report were just over 200 million bushels, or 63 percent of what was estimated in the December 2021 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report with eight months remaining in the marketing year.

Let’s come together for animal ag: 2022 Stakeholders Summit registration now open

The Animal Agriculture Alliance announced today that registration is now open for the 2022 Stakeholders Summit, themed “Come Together for Animal Ag: Be Informed, Be Ready, Be Here!” The Alliance’s annual event brings together thought leaders from all links along the food supply chain to discuss hot-button issues and out-of-the-box ideas to connect the farm and food communities, engage influencers and protect the future of animal agriculture.

The 2022 event will return to an in-person format and is slated for May 11-12 in Kansas City, Missouri. A virtual attendance option will also be available with five preconference webinars scheduled for the weeks leading up to the main event. An outline of the Summit agenda has been posted on the event website and the full speaker lineup will be announced soon. To register, visit https://bit.ly/AAA22Summit. Early registration discounts are available through March 9.

“The Alliance is delighted to welcome Summit attendees back to Kansas City for our first in-person event since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “We know that the most effective way to safeguard the future of animal agriculture is to come together in person. The 2022 Stakeholders Summit is the perfect place to do just that as we bring together farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, animal feed companies, animal health companies, processors, allied associations and others involved in getting food from farm to fork.”

Tyne Morgan, host of U.S. Farm Report, will return as moderator for the event. Morgan plunged into broadcast at 16 through FFA public speaking and contest teams. While in high school, she worked at KMZU radio providing the daily farm market updates, as well as local, state and national agriculture news. Tyne attended the University of Missouri-Columbia where she majored in agriculture journalism, with an emphasis in broadcast. After spending countless hours on the road as AgDay and U.S. Farm Report national reporter, Tyne was named the first female host of U.S. Farm Report in 2014. Today, she travels the country, capturing the latest agricultural news, interviewing both farmers and industry leaders, as well as searching for compelling stories in rural America.

Be sure to check the Summit website https://animalagalliance.org/initiatives/stakeholders-summit/ for the most up-to-date information. You can also follow the hashtag #AAA22 for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about Summit, please contact summit@animalagalliance.org or call (703) 562-5160.

Thank you to our 2022 Summit sponsors: Watt Global Media, Farm Journal, Meatingplace, National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Board, American Feed Industry Association, United Egg Producers, Dairy MAX, Adisseo, Progressive Dairy, Kemin, American Farm Bureau Federation, Empirical, American Veal Association, National Chicken Council, Agri Beef, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, North Carolina Farm Bureau and Eggland’s Best.

The Alliance also thanks the following members for their continued support of Summit and other Alliance programs: U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, Zoetis, Merck Animal Health, C.O.nxt, Diamond V, Genus PLC – PIC/ABS, Aviagen Group, Boehringer Ingelheim, Cargill, Dairy Farmers of America, Hendrix Genetics, Hy-Line North America, LLC, Iowa Soybean Association, Kanas Soybean Commission, Midwest Dairy, National Turkey Federation, Nutrien, Provimi North America, Inc., Seaboard Foods and Tyson Foods Inc.

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