President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan offers many provisions that have long been priorities with farm groups, including a $100 billion plan to connect the entire U.S. to high-speed internet.

There also is $621 billion earmarked for transportation improvements, including $115 billion for roads and bridges and $17 billion for waterways. Some $20 billion is earmarked for fixing smaller, off-system bridges, many of them rural.

There also are some relatively modest climate provisions aimed at agriculture, including $1 billion for what is described as “agricultural resources management and climate-smart technologies.”
Take note: There are some key provisions for rural electric co-ops: The plan prioritizes support for broadband networks that are owned, operated or affiliated with non-profits and RECs. And $10 billion is earmarked for helping RECs transition to clean power.

Keep in mind: Republicans were quick to denounce the corporate tax increases that would be used to pay for the spending.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers, whose members include Deere and Co. and Caterpillar, issued a pair of statements on the plan. The first included an appeal not to increase corporate taxes. The second statement included an appeal for bipartisanship, saying AEM wanted to work with the administration and “both parties in Congress” to pass “bipartisan legislation under regular order.”

Iowa House race settled

Democrat Rita Hart has dropped her challenge to Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks in Iowa’s 2nd District. Miller-Meeks won the race by six votes, but Hart sought to get House Democrats to overturn the result, a possibility that got pushback from some party moderates.

Acreage predictions rally corn and soybean prices

Corn and soybean prices jumped limit up Wednesday on new reports out of USDA, and an ag economist says prices could stay strong if the numbers in USDA’s annual planting survey hold true.

USDA estimates producers will plant 91.1 million acres of corn; traders were expecting 93.2 million. Farmers are expected to plant 87.6 million acres of soybeans well under the trade estimate of 89.9 million acres.

“I certainly think there’s room for these prices to stay around through next year if these acreage numbers hold up through June,” said Ben Brown, senior research associate at the University of Missouri.

USTR watching Canada with dairy trade concerns

It was the Trump administration that put Canada on notice over allegations that the country is falling short on its dairy quota commitments under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, but the Biden administration now says it’s also concerned.

“The United States remains concerned about potential Canadian actions that would further limit U.S. exports to the Canadian dairy market,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a new report released Wednesday. “The United States continues to monitor closely any tariff reclassifications of dairy products to ensure that U.S. market access is not negatively affected.”

The U.S. dairy industry is accusing Canada of reserving 85% of the new USMCA import quotas for cheaper U.S. dairy products that do not compete with Canadian products.

US, UK focus on China, WTO reform at G7

The UK hosted the first-ever G7 trade ministers meeting Wednesday, and British International Trade Secretary Liz Truss focused primarily on countering unfair trade practices from “non-market economies” like China as well as the need to make reforms at the World Trade Organization.

The Biden administration has been reaching out across the globe for allies to confront China over trade, environmental and humanitarian abuses and the British may be key to that effort.

A shared complaint by the U.S. and UK is China’s refusal to admit it is not a “developing nation,” a designation that allows it to take on fewer obligations under the WTO. “It is ludicrous that some countries can evade market disciplines by claiming to be developing nations when they are not,” Truss said in a speech at the G7 meeting.

AFBF, Growth Energy back biofuel industry in SCOTUS case

The American Farm Bureau Federation and Growth Energy have signed onto a Supreme Court brief supporting the biofuel industry’s argument that EPA can only provide small refinery exemptions to companies that previously had the waivers.

“There’s a lot riding not only in terms of the outcomes of other litigation in the works but also what (EPA) is going to be doing moving forward,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, which also is on the brief.

The case stems from a 2020 January ruling from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Arguments are set for April 27 with a ruling expected in June.

First Lady Jill Biden in California on Cesar Chavez’ birthday Wednesday: ‘Faith and love were at the heart of his action: hunger strikes, boycotts, the fight for civil rights.’

EPA ‘resets’ two scientific advisory committees

EPA will appoint new members to two science advisory committees to provide “a balanced group of experts,” the agency said Wednesday.

The move involving the Science Advisory Board and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee comes after the Trump administration had barred membership by researchers who had received EPA grants, a change found illegal last year by a federal judge. A 2019 GAO report also found fault with the way committee members committees were appointed — specifically, by not considering staff input.

“Today we return to a time-tested, fair, and transparent process for soliciting membership to these critically important advisory bodies," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.

States back meat industry on Prop 12
 Twenty states are supporting a meat industry appeal to the Supreme Court targeting California’s Proposition 12, which bans the sale of veal, pork and eggs that come from operations that don’t meet the state’s animal-confinement standards.

Prop 12 “is a paradigm of unconstitutional extraterritorial regulation,” the states said in their brief. “It requires hog and veal-calf farmers in every state to follow California’s animal-confinement rules on pain of exclusion from the California market.”

The states supporting the North American Meat Institute’s petition to review the 9th Circuit’s decision are Indiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

She said it.  “If California is allowed to apply its laws to conduct in other states, a single state will dictate policies in all others, encouraging a patchwork of regulations and threatening the free flow of interstate commerce.” – NAMI President and CEO Julie Anna Potts on Prop 12.
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