Friday, April 22, 2022

Friday April 22 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.66 million cattle on feed on April 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 3% from last year. Placements during March totaled 470,000 head, up 7% from 2021. Fed cattle marketings for the month of March totaled 490,000 head, up 8% from last year. Other disappearance during March totaled 10,000 head, down 5,000 head from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 600,000 head on April 1, 2022, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service - Cattle on Feed report. This was down 2 percent from March and down 5 percent from April 1, 2021. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 575,000 head on feed, down 3 percent from last month but up 5 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,175,000 head, down 2 percent from last month and down slightly from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during March 2022 totaled 100,000 head, down 6 percent from February and down 11 percent from March 2021. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 42,000 head, down 41 percent from February and down 38 percent from March 2021. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 142,000 head, down 20 percent from February and down 21 percent from March 2021.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during March 2022 totaled 108,000 head, up 5 percent from February but down 1 percent from March 2021. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 55,000 head, down 11 percent from February and down 15 percent from March 2021. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 163,000 head, down 1 percent from February and down 6 percent from March 2021. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 4,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 2 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 12.1 million head on April 1, 2022. The inventory was 2 percent above April 1, 2021. This is the highest April 1 inventory since the series began in 1996. The inventory included 7.54 million steers and steer calves, up 2 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 62 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 4.57 million head, up 2 percent from 2021.

On Feed, by State  (1,000 hd - % April 1 '21)

Colorado .......:             1,100          104            
Iowa .............:                 600           95           
Kansas ..........:              2,510          101            
Nebraska ......:              2,660          103          
Texas ............:              2,950          103         

Placements in feedlots during March totaled 1.99 million head, slightly below 2021. Net placements were 1.94 million head. During March, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 375,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 330,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 530,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 515,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 180,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 60,000 head.

Placements, by State
                                 (1,000 hd  -  % March '21)

Colorado .......:             180           100        
Iowa .............:              100            89          
Kansas ..........:              490           100          
Nebraska ......:              470           107         
Texas ............:              435            94          

Marketings of fed cattle during March totaled 2.00 million head, 2 percent below 2021. Other disappearance totaled 53,000 head during March, 12 percent below 2021.

Marketings, by State
                                 (1,000 hd  -  % March '21)

Colorado .......:             195            91          
Iowa .............:              108            99          
Kansas ..........:              480           102         
Nebraska ......:              490           108            
Texas ............:              415            91            

Lower Elkhorn NRD promotes Arbor Day with tree sales     

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of Arbor Day and will be celebrated Friday, April 29th.  The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will commemorate this special day with “last chance tree sales” at their Tree Distribution Center at the Maskenthine Lake Recreation Area, north of Stanton.  The center will be open from 8:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. on Arbor Day, and seedlings can be purchased in bundles of 25 for $25.  Quantities and species are limited.  From Norfolk, the lake is located 10 miles east on highway 275 and then 2 miles south on Ridge Road.  Signs will direct you to the pick-up location.

LENRD Natural Resources Technician, Todd Stewart, said, “There are so many benefits that trees provide for us, from reducing soil erosion, to adding value to your property, to filtering the air.  Planting trees is a gift for future generations.  Our parents and grandparents did it for us, and we should return the favor for our kids and grandkids.”

Contact Stewart at the LENRD office, 402-371-7313, if you have questions about your trees or if you need further assistance.

History of Arbor Day
Nestled in the hills of Nebraska City, is the legendary Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, the original home of the J. Sterling Morton family.  It was there in 1872, that Morton’s idea began – for a special day set aside to encourage people everywhere to plant trees that were so desperately needed across the state.  Morton was a newspaper editor and politician who was very passionate about trees and agriculture.  His dream became known as Arbor Day, and on that very first celebration, nearly one million trees were planted across Nebraska.  Nebraska, the birth state of Arbor Day, celebrates Arbor Day on the last Friday of April each year.

Wine Glass Ranch Receives Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award

Wine Glass Ranch of Imperial has been selected as the recipient of the 2022 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award®.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat resources in their care.

Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 24 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. In Nebraska, the $10,000 award is presented with Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN), Cargill and the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

Logan and Brianna Pribbeno, and his parents Jeff and Connie Pribbeno, own and operate the 30,000 acres of crops, rangeland, and grazing lands at Wine Glass Ranch. The Pribbenos will be presented with the $10,000 award at the AFAN annual meeting in November.

“Agriculture has to be economically sustainable along with environmentally sustainable in order to function. The face that the Pribbenos have been tending this land for five generations is a testament to their big picture view of sustainability,” said Steve Martin, Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) Executive Director. “They are a great example of how conservation practices can enhance modern farming and ranching practices for greater profitability while also improving the land. Congratulations to the Pribbenos of Wine Glass Ranch on a well-deserved award.”

“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of the Nebraska recipient,” said John Piotti, AFT President and CEO. “At AFT we believe that conservation in agriculture requires a focus on the land, the practices and the people and this award recognizes the integral role of all three.”

“The recipients of this award are examples of how Aldo Leopold’s land ethic is alive and well today. Their dedication to conservation shows how individuals can improve the health of the land while producing food and fiber,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and CEO.

Last year, Nebraska landowners were encouraged to apply (or be nominated) for the award. Applications were reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders.

The first Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award was presented to Wilson Ranch of Lakeside in 2006. The 2021 recipient was Switzer Ranch of Loup County. To view profiles of award recipients visit

The Leopold Conservation Award Program in Nebraska is made possible thanks to the generous support of American Farmland Trust, Cargill, AFAN, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Sand County Foundation, Farm Credit Services of America, Audubon Nebraska, Lyle Sittler Memorial Fund, McDonald’s, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Game and Parks, Nebraska Land Trust, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Sandhills Task Force, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, World Wildlife Fund-Northern Great Plains, and Green Cover Seed.

In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.”

Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 24 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. For more information on the award, visit


Logan Pribbeno grew up around rotational grazing and no-till farming in the 1990s when both practices were still hotly debated by academics and farmers alike. Today, the self-described “second-generation conservationist” prioritizes rebuilding the light soils his family farmed for over a century, while making a living.

Without off-farm jobs and income, Logan and his wife Brianna, and his parents Jeff and Connie Pribbeno, rely on what they reap from the soil to sustain their family and employees. They manage the 30,000 acres of crops, rangeland, and grazing lands at Wine Glass Ranch to be productive, progressive and profitable. The catchy name of their integrated farm and ranch is a nod to the wine glass shaped cattle brand that Logan’s great-great grandmother registered in the 1930s.

One example of how the Pribbenos have combined conservation with profitability is their use of “ecological edges” as habitat for beneficial insects. All 4,500 acres of their cropland is bordered with a mix of perennial, native grasses. Beneficial predator insects like lady beetles, flower flies, and tachinid flies thrive in these areas. When pests descend on crops, the predator bugs descend on them. By shifting the ranch’s insect ecology, broad-spectrum insecticides are never used.

The Pribbenos grow a diversified crop rotation of corn, millet, milo, and wheat to optimize soil fertility with crop residues. Minimum-till or no-till is used on all cropland. Over time, the Pribbenos have come to utilize cover crops not just a long-term regenerative practice, but a short-term profit center. They graze livestock on fields of cover crops and harvested crop residues on their own farm and on rented fields. Doing so puts money in their neighbors’ pockets while helping recycle nutrients. It’s a win-win for the local farm economy and soil community.

Winter grazing of cover crops and harvested crop residues allows the native range to rest, while maximizing snow catch and minimizing wind erosion.  

Since dividing 18,000 acres of Wine Glass Ranch into 90 paddocks in 1987, 120 stock tanks, 50 miles of pipeline, and more than 100 miles of cross fencing have been added to allow for high intensity, short duration grazing. Rather than trampling watering areas and over grazing pastures, a planned grazing system increases the vigor of their grasses thanks to increased rest periods for each paddock.

The Pribbenos continue to refine their system. Data from an annual evaluation of each paddock’s vegetation and soil type helps create the next grazing season’s herd size and moves. Proving that their system is working, Wine Glass Ranch’s stocking rates speak for themselves. Few graziers can keep as many as 3,000 beef cattle in a single group while regenerating the soil.

More than 10,000 trees and shrubs have been planted across Wine Glass Ranch to provide windbreak protection and wildlife habitat areas. A waterfowl pond was constructed, and four wildlife water guzzlers were installed to provide drinking water for wildlife.

In addition to 750 environmentally-sensitive acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), another 61 wetland sites on 107 acres have been enrolled into CRP wetland restoration and buffer strip programs.

Aldo Leopold defined conservation as the state of harmony between man and land. That harmony is found at Wine Glass Ranch, where the Pribbeno family’s deliberate management decisions are restoring, enhancing, and conserving their land.

Hansen and Bolz Represent Nebraska on White House webinar on “The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act”

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) President John Hansen and USDA Nebraska Rural Development Director Kate Bolz were the were the two presenters from Nebraska on Earth Day at a White House virtual briefing highlighting the Nebraska benefits from “The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act”.

Nebraska Rural Development Director Bolz described the “nuts and bolts” infrastructure issues she helps rural Nebraskans with as needs arise. She discussed a small town water delivery problem that will benefit from the additional funding in the new bipartisan supported infrastructure bill. Bolz also discussed the benefits of expanded weatherization program funding, and the need for additional funding for infrastructure needs.

Hansen said “The passage of the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” was supported by Nebraska farm organizations because the need for the largest long-term investment in our infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century was obvious. Hansen highlighted the following new additional investments in Nebraska infrastructure:     
    $2 billion for 1,125 miles of poor condition roads and 1,302 outdated and unsafe bridges
    $100 million to help deploy high speed internet broadband across our deficient state
    $16.8 million over five years to protect against wildfires
    $12.7 million to protect against cyberattacks

Links for more information about the “The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act”: Sharing also the BIL Rural Playbook:

Nebraska Fact Sheet:

Hansen noted the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” was right down the middle of the plate of issues his organization have been working on for years including the need to build and repair roads and bridges, climate mitigation, reliable high-speed internet, and cyberattacks. He mentioned the historic wildfire that had damaged thousands of acres in south central Nebraska, historic 500 year floods in 2019 and the need to take our changing climate into consideration as we build back better and smarter.


- Brad Schick, NE Extension Educator

Low soil moisture levels in many areas across the state may mean irrigating alfalfa before the first cutting. Many producers have already begun to water alfalfa. Have you considered this moisture building technique?

Early season watering is not a typical practice, but when soil profiles are dry, it needs to be considered. For soil that is still dry from last fall, spring irrigation can build moisture up in the profile for later in the year when the heat of the summer increases water requirements. This practice needs to be taking place now if you haven’t already started.

During the peak of summer heat and growth, alfalfa water needs may reach one half inch per day. Shallow roots are unable to keep up with increased demand during the summer heat.  Instead, alfalfa relies upon deep roots that can extend down to depths of 8 ft. Spring irrigation will encourage deep root growth now that can be put to use as temperatures climb, tapping into deep soil moisture reserves. On the other hand, if we only irrigate enough to maintain growth in the summer, the development of shallow roots is promoted.  This decreases efficiency of summer waterings and may result in a situation where we are physically unable to supply enough water to keep up with moisture needs.

While watering more in these circumstances may seem like a solution, it can actually make things worse. To keep up with summer demand, the soil surface and first few inches may stay too wet. Oxygen needs for roots will be limited and performance will suffer. Alfalfa doesn’t like wet feet.

Finally, adequate subsurface moisture can help control weeds. If irrigating occurs before the alfalfa plant has begun to regrow after cutting, weed growth will be promoted instead.

Water early to make sure the top six feet of soil have ample water for the late spring and summer months.

Nebraska Cattlemen Political Action Committee Announces Support for Congressional and Statewide Candidates

Today, the Nebraska Cattlemen Political Action Committee (PAC) announced their support for three candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives, and two candidates running for statewide office.

The Nebraska Cattlemen PAC stated, “We are pleased to announce our support for these outstanding congressional and statewide candidates who we believe will best represent the needs and interest of our beef cattle producers. As the Beef State, it is crucial for us to elect candidates who truly understand issues affecting the agriculture community and who will help ensure our members continue to thrive for decades to come.”

Below is a list of candidates the Nebraska Cattlemen PAC supports:
Nebraska’s First Congressional District – Michael J. Flood
Nebraska’s Second Congressional District – Donald J. Bacon
Nebraska’s Third Congressional District – Adrian M. Smith
Nebraska Secretary of State – Robert B. Evnen
Nebraska Attorney General – Mike Hilgers

To learn more about the Nebraska Cattlemen PAC, please visit our website at

Women’s Learning Circle to focus on conservation practices in farming  

Women landowners are invited to a farm tour to learn more about conservation and working with tenants, and to meet with other women landowners.

“Women's Learning Circles: Farming with Conservation in Mind,” hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs, will be Tuesday, May 31, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at farms outside of Bruno and Scribner. Addresses will be provided upon registration. In the event of rain, tours will be rescheduled for June 1.

“These tours will let participants connect with and learn from other women landowners in the area,” said Kirstin Bailey, senior project associate for the Center. “Our two hosts have been participating in a University of Nebraska-Lincoln teaching/research project regarding collaborative conservation efforts with their tenants. These women will share their stories and experiences.”

Lunch will be provided; please bring your own lawn chair.

Registration is required by May 26. Sign up at For more information, contact Bailey at or 402.870.2390.

This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under agreement number NR203A750001C038.

All Center for Rural Affairs events and activities are open to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable arrangements for persons with disabilities and/or persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) will be made if requested in advance.

USDA Cold Storage March 2022 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on March 31, 2022 were up 1 percent from the previous month and up 9 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 1 percent from the previous month and up 11 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 8 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 13 percent from last month and up 60 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on March 31, 2022 were up 1 percent from the previous month but down 1 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 1 percent from the previous month but up 5 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 5 percent from last month but down 12 percent from March 31, 2021.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on March 31, 2022 were down 1 percent from the previous month and down 1 percent from March 31, 2021. Butter stocks were up 8 percent from last month but down 20 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks on March 31, 2022 were down 11 percent from last month and down 5 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 9 percent from last month and down 4 percent from a year ago.

Clearing the Air on E15 and Smog

In the wake of President Biden’s recent announcement to equalize the regulatory treatment of E15 and E10 fuel this summer, Big Oil’s massive public relations machine has been busy spreading misinformation. As a result, there has been an uptick of inaccurate reports concerning the impact of Biden’s action.
Admittedly, the reason why many retailers would have found it difficult to offer E15 during the summer is difficult to summarize in a sentence or two. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) is committed to arming reporters with all the resources and information they need to concisely and accurately communicate with readers.
In a Nutshell: E15 has been locked out of the summer market in past years because federal fuel regulations written before E15 existed unintentionally created a discrepancy in how E10 and E15 are regulated, which oil companies were able to exploit to block E15 sales.
E15 Reduces Smog Forming Emissions. EPA regulates fuel volatility (its likelihood to evaporate) to reduce smog-forming emissions in the summer when potential for smog is highest. When ethanol is blended with gasoline, volatility peaks around 10% ethanol and then goes down as more ethanol is added. So E15 has a lower volatility than E10. With 95% of U.S. fuel being E10, Biden’s action to allow E15 to easily remain in the marketplace will reduce smog forming emissions because every gallon of E10 that is replaced by a gallon of E15 reduces smog-forming emissions.
Then Why is E15 “Restricted”? It is not. E15 can be sold anywhere in the country in the summer so long as it meets the same volatility standard all other fuels (except E10, which has a special allowance). No regulatory action has been taken to “restrict” or “ban” E15. It is E10 that has been treated differently, receiving a slightly higher volatility allowance than all other fuels.*
Oil Refiners Effectively “Banned” E15 in the Summer. This regulatory discrepancy between E15 and E10 allows oil refiners to game the system. Prior to Biden’s action, oil companies (which control the pipelines) could send higher volatility gasoline up the pipeline that could be used to make E10 but not E15. By doing so, they locked E15 out of the summer market. Why? Because oil companies do not want to give up another 5% of their market share.
President Biden’s recent action merely equalized the summer standards for E10 and E15 to prevent oil companies from locking E15 out of the market.
Is E10 harmful for emissions? No. It is natural to ask why E10 was given a volatility allowance during the summer (back in the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act). After studying the issue, the EPA concluded that lower E10 tailpipe emissions (ethanol helps petroleum burn cleaner) more than offset the increased evaporative emissions. In other words, even with the volatility allowance, E10 still had the same or lower overall (evaporative plus tailpipe) smog-forming emissions than non-ethanol blends. Compared to E10, E15 has both lower evaporative and tailpipe emissions.
Bottom line: There is no legitimate scientific or environmental reason for E15 to be restricted in the summer. Learn more by checking out these resources:
    E15 Summer Waiver: Key Questions About the Market Article by John Eichberger, Executive Director, Fuels Institute
    It's Time to Check the Facts on E15 Article from Renewable Fuels Association
    E15 Has a Lower Vapor Pressure than E10 Article from Growth Energy

E10 is not granted a higher volatility allowance referenced above in reformulated gasoline (RFG) markets. RFG markets are densely populated areas in the U.S. with the most serious smog concerns. Therefore, the same lower volatility gasoline has always been supplied to these areas to make both E10 and E15. There has never been a hurdle (let alone a restriction) on selling E15 during the summer in the very areas that have smog concerns.

Big Time Grain Co. Summer 2022 Tour Powered by the Iowa Soybean Association and Cleaner, Better, Now Biodiesel

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), powered by the soybean checkoff, is now the exclusive biodiesel partner of the band Big Time Grain Co. Clean-burning biodiesel made from soybeans grown by Iowa farmers will power the group’s summer 2022 tour across the state and Midwest. The announcement coincides with National Earth Day, a celebration of our shared commitment to protecting and preserving the quality of our natural resources.

Big Time Grain Co. is fronted by brothers Bret and Chad Bourquin. Raised on a Kansas farm, agriculture, guitars, banjos, mandolins and fiddles have been a part of their lives from an early age. The duo will bring their rural roots to stages across the Midwest, advancing biodiesel awareness and highlighting the Iowa farmers who make the sustainable fuel a reality. A biodiesel-powered van will transport the band in style and is expected to log over 15,000 tour miles.

“We are honored and hugely grateful to be partnering with the Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa’s soybean farmers as we hit the road for a busy summer tour,” said Chad Bourquin, lead guitarist and vocalist. “Combining great music with promoting clean burning, homegrown biodiesel benefiting farmers and the communities in which we perform just makes us smile.”

Iowa leads the nation in biodiesel production, with the state’s 11 biodiesel plants producing an estimated 340 million gallons in 2021. As the most sustainable liquid fuel available, biodiesel can make immediate strides in reducing carbon emitted from vehicles, equipment and more. When compared to petroleum-based diesel, biodiesel:
    Reduces lifecycle greenhouse gases by up to 86 percent.
    Lowers particulate matter by 47 percent in older diesel engines, reduces smog and makes our air healthier to breathe.
    Reduces hydrocarbon emissions by 67 percent in older diesel engines.

Dave Walton, an ISA and Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB) director and soybean farmer from Wilton, says Iowa’s solution to the national call for sustainable energy security is biodiesel.

“Through this partnership, Big Time Grain Co. is helping to elevate the voices of Iowa soybean growers and promote the use of cleaner-burning fuels as the nation’s energy values continue to change,” said Walton. “To continue increasing the demand for homegrown soy and keep Iowa’s 40,000 soybean farmers in a position to succeed, expanding the use of biodiesel is essential."

By increasing soybean oil value, biodiesel supports 13% of the price per bushel of soybeans; equated to $1.78 per bushel in 2021. It also lowers the price of soybean meal, a key ingredient for livestock producers and the food supply.

To learn more, visit For tour update information and samples of Big Time Grain Co. music, visit


USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced it approved the Clemens Food Group pork packing plant in Coldwater, Michigan, to run faster line speeds under a one-year trial program. The agency now has let four plants operate with faster harvesting line speeds, which could increase packing capacity and alleviate supply issues in the face of strong pork demand.

FSIS established the line speeds program last November, after a provision in USDA’s 2019 New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) was struck down by a U.S. District Court in March 2021. Nine pork packing plants that had adopted the NSIS — six of which were operating with faster line speeds — were allowed to apply for the program, under which they need to collect data on the effects of the faster speeds on workers and share it with USDA and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The information could be used to formulate a new regulation for allowing plants to run faster line speeds.

The National Pork Producers Council pulled out the proverbial stops last year to get the plants back to operating faster line speeds and was greatly relieved when USDA announced the one-year program. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, if six plants are in the program, the aggregate impact on U.S. pork harvest capacity will be a 3.6% expansion. After one year, that would translate into an increase in live hog prices of 6%.



A coalition representing exporters and importers that includes the National Pork Producers Council  this week asked the leaders of the Senate and House transportation committees to quickly resolve differences in their “Ocean Shipping Reform Act” (OSRA) bills, both of which address longstanding supply chain issues and shipping port disruptions. The Senate approved its version of the OSRA in late March; the House passed its bill in December.

In a letter signed by 91 companies and trade associations sent Thursday to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the coalition urged the lawmakers to discuss and reconcile their respective measures in a conference committee.

U.S. exporters and importers have been dealing with port problems, including aging infrastructure, and shipping issues, such as excessive detention and demurrage charges, for several years. Those challenges have been exacerbated over the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Promptly reaching a final OSRA bill, followed by swift final Congressional passage and the president’s signature, will help ensure U.S. competitiveness and continued economic recovery,” the coalition concluded.  

NGFA, ag groups outline several proposals to improve rail service

In an April 21 letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB), the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and 32 other members of the Agricultural Transportation Working Group outlined several measures the Board can take to address rail service problems and prevent future service failures of the magnitude currently being experienced across the country.

“The current inability of several Class I carriers to provide reliable rail service to their customers is impacting farmgate commodity prices and elevating food prices for consumers,” the letter noted. “Future service challenges can be deterred, or even prevented, through increased competition, and by implementing financial incentives for railroads to perform more efficiently utilizing the same concepts that railroads use to incentivize their customers to be more efficient.”

The groups commended the Board’s recent decision to accept public comments on a petition to allow rail customers to levy financial penalties on railroads for their inefficient use of private railcars, which make up many of the cars that haul agricultural commodities. The Board also should explore other ways to incentivize the Class I railroads to provide more reliable service for carrier-provided railcars, the letter stated.

The Board also should finalize a rulemaking on reciprocal switching rules, which would allow shippers served by a single railroad to request bids from a nearby competing railroad.

Rail service also can improve through additional data reporting and by the Board developing guidance on its expectations for rail carriers in meeting their statutory obligation to provide service upon reasonable request, the groups said.

Finally, some rail service challenges can be forestalled by requiring all the Class I railroads to develop annual rail service assurance plans.

“These plans would provide a basis for the Board and industry stakeholders to conduct annual assessments of intended service versus actual service, and to identify and address potential issues that otherwise may result in future service problems,” the letter noted.

NGFA and Agricultural Transportation Working Group members noted that the food and agricultural sector contributes $1.1 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product and supports more than 22 million U.S. jobs, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Reliable and cost-competitive railroad freight service is essential because U.S. agricultural producers and agribusinesses compete in the global market for agricultural products ranging from raw commodities to value-added products, such as meat, poultry, dairy, cotton and biofuels,” the groups stated.

 Growth Energy: This Earth Day, E15 Can Help Achieve Climate Goals

To commemorate Earth Day, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement celebrating biofuels’ environmental contributions and role in achieving a low-carbon future:

“As President Biden said in Iowa last week, we simply can’t get to net-zero emissions by 2050 without biofuels. Biofuels like ethanol reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46% compared to gasoline and are an accessible, plant-based fuel source that can immediately help improve air quality alongside other clean energy solutions.  

“On the heels of last week’s announcement, this Earth Day is a particularly important reminder of the role American biofuels play in decarbonizing our transportation sector—from vehicles on the road today to the planes in the sky tomorrow. Filling up with higher blends of biofuels can help our nation achieve its climate goals. In fact, if we moved to a nationwide E15 standard, we could reduce carbon emissions by more than 17.62 million tons – the equivalent of taking 3.85 million cars off the road each year. The development of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) using ethanol would also result in a significant reduction in carbon emissions compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces.  

“For the U.S. to meet its climate goal of net-zero emissions by midcentury, we have to quickly expand the volume of low-carbon biofuels across the entire transportation sector. Fortunately, American drivers can already access the cleaner benefits and better value of American biofuels at pumps across the country with E15. Filling up with E15 or Unleaded 88 – as it’s known to consumers at the pump – is a simple change with meaningful benefits for the environment.

“This Earth Day, celebrate our planet by filling up on higher blends of biofuels at the pump. You can find E15 available near you at”

Biofuels are Key to Reaching Climate Goals
Biofuels like ethanol play an important role in reducing emissions and improving our environment for future generations. The biofuels industry delivers an immediate impact that allows for fuel choice and supports development of new markets and applications for clean energy.

Delivering an Immediate Impact
    Biofuels like ethanol reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46 percent compared to gasoline.
    Today, a simple move to E15 would reduce CO2 emissions by more than 17.62 million tons -- the equivalent of taking 3.85 million cars off the road each year.
    Increased blends of ethanol means less pollution and healthier communities. A study by the University of California Riverside found that ethanol blends reduce toxic emissions by up to 50 percent, including smog-producing pollutants and ultra-fine particulates.  

Providing a Diversity of Fuel Sources
    An analysis by the Rhodium Group released in January 2021 found that biofuels are a mainstay for any climate strategy looking to attain net zero emissions by 2050.
    The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that 80% of the vehicle fleet will run on internal combustion engines and that liquid fuels will continue to dominate the sector even by 2050.

Developing New Markets and Applications
    The development of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) using ethanol would result in a significant reduction in carbon emissions compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces.
    The biofuels industry is incentivizing sustainable agricultural practices to lower carbon emissions and is investing heavily in carbon capture and sequestration, which reduces ethanol's carbon intensity score by 25 - 30 points (g CO2e/MJ).

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