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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is hoping to add extensions to an assortment of energy tax breaks to any spending deal that materializes in the coming weeks. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

Washington, D.C. — The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is hoping to add extensions to an assortment of energy tax breaks to any spending deal that materializes in the coming weeks. A continuing resolution or omnibus spending package may be the most viable near-term legislative vehicle for renewing the roughly two dozen tax breaks, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said yesterday.

"It's the only way to get it done in the next couple months," he told E&E News.

Efforts to revive the extenders foundered at the end of the previous Congress, when the then-majority House Republicans punted on a tax package that would have retroactively extended the breaks for 2018.

Supporters of the extenders — which include incentives for efficiency, biofuels and alternative vehicles refueling stations — have struggled in their quest to win long-term certainty for affected industry sectors. The incentives have repeatedly lapsed, only to be later revived for one or two years.

In a sign that discussions are picking up, 10 associations representing the biofuels, agricultural and refining sectors sent a letter to congressional leaders yesterday urging an extension of a key biodiesel blenders tax break.

"Unfortunately, the uncertainty caused by the 'on-again, off-again' tempo of legislative extensions ... has somewhat frustrated our sector's ability to anticipate the availability of the incentives and make the necessary investments," wrote the coalition, which includes the Advanced Biofuels Association, National Biodiesel Board and Petroleum Marketers Association of America.

"This severely disrupts access to capital, as well as the ability to hire and expand," said the letter.

It urged lawmakers to "maintain and extend the biodiesel blenders' tax credit as soon as possible," but it was silent on a proposal that surfaced in the closing weeks of the previous Congress that would have extended but phased down the value of the biodiesel break over seven years.

E&E Daily subscribers can read more: E&E Daily, Feb. 6, 2019, E&E Daily, Jan. 22, 2019, E&E Daily, Dec. 11, 2018

Washington, D.C. — Chinese leaders said the country would be buying more U.S. soybeans, and now we have proof it did. The USDA reported a buy on Tuesday of 2,603,000 MT that is scheduled to be delivered to China.  Another 274,000 MT is scheduled for delivery to unknown destinations. This is in addition to Monday's buy of about 612,000 MT.  

After two days of talks last week, China's lead trade negotiator Vice Premier Liu He met with President Trump and the other U.S. negotiators in the Oval Office.  He revealed China would buy another 5,000,000 MT of U.S. soybeans.  However, a company that tracks vessels being loaded and unloaded says China's shipments fall well short of the 10,000,000 MT mark and commodity markets so far have seemed unimpressed by the buys.

Read more.

Washington, D.C. — Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said that Congress must avoid another federal government shutdown, partly because it would slow down farm bill implementation.

"I hope there is not a shutdown," Roberts said at the beginning of his remarks to a Farm Foundation forum on farm bill implementation. Later in the presentation, Roberts said, "We are not going to do another shutdown. I have been through 15 shutdowns. They have never achieved their purpose."

The shutdown was "tough" for farmers who were making decisions and finding the Farm Service Agency county offices closed, Roberts said, adding that the farmers are now even more in the decision-making process about spring planting.

Speaking of the slowdown in farm bill implementation due to the government shutdown, Roberts said, "They are working extremely hard down at the department so I think it will work out."

Read more.

Washington, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Tuesday asked Congress to pass his new trade deal with Canada and Mexico and give him the power to unilaterally increase tariffs on countries that charge levies for U.S.-made goods.

In his second State of the Union address, Trump urged lawmakers to back the new agreement, known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. He also said the tariff measure, known as the United States Reciprocal Trade Act, would allow him to protect American workers hurt by decades of flawed trade deals.  

""Our new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — the USMCA — will replace NAFTA and deliver for American workers like they haven't had delivered to for a long time," Trump said. "I hope you can pass the USMCA so that we can bring back our manufacturing jobs, expand American agriculture, protect intellectual property, and ensure that more cars are proudly stamped with our four beautiful words: made in the USA."

Read more.

Washington, D.C. — Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced Wednesday the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched a new toolkit to help support the deployment of high-speed broadband e-Connectivity in rural communities.

“High-speed broadband e-Connectivity is becoming more and more essential to doing business, delivering health care, and, for schoolchildren, doing homework in rural communities,” Hazlett said. “This user-friendly tool will help rural customers find the many resources USDA has available to support the expansion and use of e-Connectivity in rural America.”

The e-Connectivity Toolkit (PDF, 4.3 MB) features 27 USDA programs that support broadband deployment. The easy-to-use resource is a simple guide that allows customers to identify their type of e-Connectivity project and locate resources the federal government offers for planning, equipment, construction, research and other e-Connectivity projects. Resources such as grants, loans and technical assistance are available from multiple Mission Areas at USDA, including Rural Development, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Forest Service.

Atlanta, GA — Though generally regarded as a somewhat boring game due to a defensive struggle that resulted in the lowest scoring NFL championship game ever and another title for the New England Patriots, Super Bowl LIII sparked some discontent in the ag sector of social media.

Bud Light’s corn syrup advertisements were seen as a far cry from supporting agriculture. In a series of advertisements that ran during the Super Bowl or were promoted online, Bud Light used its medieval “Dilly Dilly” themed commercials to shine light on the fact that Miller Lite and Coors Light use corn syrup in the brewing process. The commercials are part of Bud Light’s rollout of ingredient labels on their beer cases that will start in February. Farmers and other members of agriculture went to social media to voice their displeasure with Anheuser-Busch Co.’s decision to purport other beers’ containing corn syrup as being inferior.

The “Chunky-Style Milk” commercial from Mint Mobile featured a product called “chunky-style milk” because as the animated fox narrator says “that’s not right.” A family is sitting down to breakfast drinking “chunky-style milk because it has the wholesome chunks kids need, unlike smooth style milk.” The mother then pours a glass of the chunk filled liquid into a glass and the whole family enjoys a “beverage.” The commercial received mixed reviews from ag Twitter.

Des Moines, IA – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced a series of free, interactive Foreign Animal Disease prevention and response workshops for livestock producers and veterinarians. The workshops will be offered through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa State University Center for Food Security and Public Health (CFSPH) and will be offered multiple times throughout the state.

“Animal agriculture is critical to our state’s economy,” said Naig. “These workshops are a great example of how we’re working to bring the industry together to help prevent and prepare for potential disease threats.”

Workshop attendees will learn what to expect if Foot and Mouth Disease or African Swine Fever is found in the U.S. Experts will share their plans for animal movements and the requirements that would go into effect if a Foreign Animal Disease outbreak occurred. Attendees can also expect to hear how to protect their animals from diseases and suggested daily health monitoring strategies.

Workshops are scheduled at the following locations:

  • 7 – Washington, IA (Washington County Extension Office, 611 Highway 1 South, Washington, IA 52353)
  • 12 – Ames, IA (Quality Inn & Suites Conference Center, 2601 E 13th St, Ames, IA 50010)
  • 26 – Nashua, IA (Borlaug Learning Center, 3327 290th St, Nashua, IA 50658)
  • March 5 – Sioux Center, IA (Terrace View Event Center, 230 St Andrews Way, Sioux Center, IA 51250)
  • March 12 – Carroll, IA (Carrollton Inn, 1730 US-71, Carroll, IA 51401)

Onsite registration opens at 8:30 a.m. the days of each session. However, pre-registration is encouraged online at this link. Workshops start at 9:00 a.m., going until 3:30 p.m. Lunch will be provided free of charge.

For media inquiries, permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at © 2020 Iowa Soybean Association. All rights reserved.

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