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Ten U.S. biodiesel plants have shuttered since the beginning of the year due to the lapsed Biodiesel Tax Incentive and EPA’s failure to uphold biofuel volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

On October 15, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule that was intended to restore the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard. It does no such thing. Instead, the proposal backtracks on a pledge by President Trump to ensure future Renewable Volume Obligations would account for Small Refinery Exemptions (SRE) based on a three-year rolling average of past waivers. This previously agreed-upon proposal would provide certainty to a struggling biodiesel industry including refineries and farmers.

Rather than restoring biodiesel demand based on the actual lost gallons, the EPA says it will look at past recommendations from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The EPA consistently ignored DOE recommendations for years under the current administration. The plan further erodes farmer confidence in the administration’s ability to bring closure to the all-important issue of biofuels and its place in America’s energy future. Countless farm families and biodiesel producers will continue to face lost income and further job cuts. More facilities will close as a result of the continued inaction and the economic losses it creates.

If left unchallenged, the rule will further gut the RFS, kill even more demand for soybeans and biodiesel and shutter additional biofuels facilities. The EPA must uphold the administration’s commitment to restore demand based on the actual three-year SRE average, beginning with the 2020 biofuel standard and years to follow. The already-waning vitality of America’s rural communities cannot afford to keep playing regulatory games with the EPA.

The situation is critical. We need you to act — right now. Tell the EPA to properly account for RFS small refinery exemptions by submitting comments on the proposed rule here.

Let President Trump (@realDonaldTrump), Andrew Wheeler (@EPAAWheeler), U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue (@SecretarySonny) and your followers know you have submitted comments by posting on TwitterFacebook or Instagram — be sure to use the hashtag #RFSworks.

Gov. Kim Reynolds extended two proclamations relating to the transportation of grain and the hours of service for the delivery of propane. The governor signed a proclamation extending her Sept. 30, 2019, proclamation that allowed 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.

The 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 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.

The proclamation extends the suspension of provisions relating to the transport of grain to 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 13, 2019. The governor also signed a proclamation extending her Oct. 31, 2019, proclamation that temporarily suspended certain regulatory provisions pertaining to hours of service for the delivery of propane. Early winter weather conditions, late harvest, and high demand for petroleum products throughout the Midwest have resulted in low supplies of propane. The proclamation temporarily suspends provisions of Iowa Code § 321.449 pertaining to hours of service for crews and drivers delivering propane.

The proclamation extends the suspension of provisions relating to hours of service for propane delivery to 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 14, 2019.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is considering a zoning ordinance that could back your farm into a corner, by requiring county approval of new farm buildings and structures, denying “farming” status to some small farms and farms deemed not “economically viable” by the county, assessing civil fines or criminal penalties for noncompliance, and more.

Not only do these changes threaten Johnson County farms, many of them violate Iowa law, which says zoning ordinances do not apply to "land, farm houses, farm barns, farm outbuildings or other buildings or structures which are primarily adapted, by reason of nature and area, for use for agricultural purposes, while so used."

Farmers have two opportunities to make their voices heard:

  1. Speak at the Johnson County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) public hearing (addressing the Board of Supervisors) on December 5. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the health and human services building, located at 855 S Dubuque Street in Iowa City. All county residents are welcome to attend and speak.
  2. Email your comments to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors leading up to the December 5 public hearing.

Visit for more information and to take action.

In the middle of November, Growmark announced it acquired the propane terminal outside Fort Madison, Iowa, from Plains LPG Services, L.P. This eastern Iowa terminal is the sixth in the Growmark network as the fourth largest propane retailer in the U.S. Its other terminals are located in South Dakota, Ohio, Missouri and two additional Iowa locations. This acquisition is not an immediate reaction in light of the current propane shortage, nor will it bring any immediate relief to the issues in the Midwest.

“Negotiations related to this acquisition have been ongoing for some time,” says Kirk McCullick, Executive Director of Marketing & Business Development for Growmark. “The Fort Madison facility is certainly expected to be a valuable long-term asset, but it is unclear how much relief it will bring to our current supply disruption. Considering the fact that current Fort Madison inventory is depleted and that the pipeline serving the terminal is currently on allocation, resupply volume and speed is uncertain at this time. We will be working diligently however, to resupply the terminal as quickly as we can.” 

New research from Iowa State University shows that “multi-purpose oxbows” can effectively reduce nitrate-nitrogen, earning them a spot in the Iowa Nutrient Research Strategy’s menu of conservation options. The Iowa Soybean Association is a partner on this research project. Since 2011, the partners on this project have restored more than 100 oxbows in Iowa, and are working together to better understand oxbows’ benefits for water quality.

“ISA’s role in this partnership has been to support adding more conservation practices into working landscapes in ways that don’t hurt production," said Corey McKinney, an ISA conservationist involved in the oxbow restorations.

"Oxbows fall into this perfectly, as they are in wet, usually rough areas that are a hassle to farm and aren’t very productive. The oxbow restorations also can have other benefits, like providing some flood storage, especially when there are more of them in a watershed.”

Oxbows are floodplain wetlands that form when a stream or river cuts a straighter path through a loop of its natural meander as it migrates within its floodplain or when a stream is channelized (see images). They often flood, providing habitat for species that need shallow water habitats. Oxbows tend to disappear as they gradually fill with sediment and organic material from surrounding land. To restore them requires removing fill material that has accumulated over time, reviving their unique habitat for species such as the endangered Topeka shiner, the orange-spotted sunfish, amphibians like leopard and chorus frogs, and waterfowl.

The World Food Prize Foundation, the foremost international organization recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world, announced today that Barbara Stinson has been named president of the organization, effective January 4, 2020.

Ms. Stinson previously served as a co-founder and Senior Partner of the Meridian Institute, a renowned non-profit organization that guides collaboration and drives action to address our world’s most complex challenges. She will succeed Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, whose 20-year presidency established the international reputation and secured the legacy of the World Food Prize. Ms. Stinson will become the second president of the Foundation since Dr. Norman Borlaug established it in 1986.

“The Board, Council of Advisors and I are delighted Barbara will join the World Food Prize Foundation as our next President. We look forward to her leading the Foundation’s next era as we continue to advance Borlaug’s mission of increasing agricultural productivity and education globally,” said John Ruan III, Chairman of the World Food Prize Foundation. “Based on her impeccable policy credentials, ability to convene diverse groups of people to advance a common purpose, proven business management skills and passion for our purpose, I am confident that Barbara is the right leader to uphold the outstanding reputation of the World Food Prize while expanding the impact of our programs to address pressing global challenges, including nutrition, climate change, water and soil management, gender equity and youth engagement.”

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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