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Soy Briefs

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Iowa leads the nation in biodiesel production. In 2018, the state’s 11 biodiesel plants produced 365 million gallons. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

Biofuel groups are praising a ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals after it struck down three small refinery exemptions, finding that the waivers were improperly granted by the Environmental Protection Agency. This ruling casts doubt on the legitimacy of dozens of other EPA exemptions granted under similar circumstances, according to industry experts and agency data.

“The Court has affirmed our long-held position that EPA’s recent practices and policies regarding small refinery exemption extensions were completely unlawful,” said Geoff Cooper, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “And while the decision addresses three specific exemptions, the statutory interpretation issues resolved by the court apply much more broadly.”

Congress passed and the President signed the fiscal year 2020 appropriation bills (including the Energy and Water Appropriations bill) in December. Congress has therefore provided the necessary funding to initiate the lower Mississippi River deepening project. The key next step is to ensure that funding is directed toward this specific project. The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) are two critical decision-makers in this process. The “Regional Dredge Demonstration Program” was included in the final passage of the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which will encourage funding for particular deepening projects, including the lower Mississippi River. However, the final decision on what particular projects are listed on the Army Corps of Engineers’ “Work Plan” is made by the Army Corps of Engineers and OMB. The “Work Plan” will likely be publicly announced in late February — approximately 60 days from the President signing the appropriations bills.  

"The prospect for the deepening project being included in the “Work Plan” is looking very promising," says Mike Steenhoek, executive director for the Soy Transportation Coalition. "I continue to hear from a variety of credible sources that it will be included and allowed to proceed.  However, since the objective is actually to get across the goal line (not just close to the goal line), work continues to encourage governors, members of Congress, and other officials to provide support for the project.  Thanks to those who have assisted in this effort.  We’re continuing to make the push."

Having heard from a number of Iowa farmers, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) met with the Assistant Secretary of the Army, R.D. James — who oversees all aspects of the Army Corps (Corps) Civil Works program, including flood control and navigation — to stress the need for the Corps to fund this key project.

“Completing this project will put more money in the pockets of our hardworking farmers and help make Iowa’s agriculture products more competitive in the global market,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “I made it clear to Secretary James how important this project is for Iowa, and I hope to see the Army Corps prioritize it in 2020."

Members of the American Soybean Association (ASA) board of directors attended the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement signing ceremony at the White House in celebration of the new treaty.

Mexico is the #2 market for whole beans, meal and oil, and Canada is the #4 buyer of meal and #7 buyer of oil for U.S. soybean farmers, making the trade agreement essential to sustaining the growth realized in those two countries under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Under NAFTA, U.S. soybean sales to Mexico quadrupled and to Canada doubled.

“This final step by President Trump ensures soybean growers will maintain access to two of their top markets, and it will also support the poultry and dairy industries that are important to soy,” said Bill Gordon, ASA president and grower from Worthington, MN. Gordon continued, “We reiterate our hearty thanks to both houses of Congress, the President, and their staff who worked together to make this important deal happen.”

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, who also attended the ceremony, issued the following statement:

“It was exciting to be in Washington D.C. to witness President Trump sign the modernized USMCA,” said Secretary Naig. “U.S. farmers are benefiting from the Trump administration’s efforts to renegotiate unbalanced trade agreements. Under the new USMCA, Iowa farmers will gain greater access to our two largest export markets, which is great news heading into the 2020 planting season.”

Jump-start your 2020 crop year and reap the harvest of greater productivity, profitability and sustainability by attending one of four Iowa Soybean Association Research & Results Forums to be held in February. ISA’s research team and the farmers they work with learned a lot during the challenging 2019 growing season. You can now put those insights and knowledge to work to make the most of your 2020 crop!

Conversational and interactive discussions will showcase:

  • New nitrogen management tools
  • Results from an in-depth analysis of conservation practices that pay!
  • Merits of Late Beans Early System
  • How to effectively manage two fundamental problems in soybean production
  • The latest policy news from Des Moines and Washington, D.C. impacting your farm

Farmer innovation is at the core of these forums. Lessons learned in ISA research trials conducted throughout the state can give you a head-start as you make the most of every acre and input!

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