President Joe Biden pushed back against Republicans who are arguing his infrastructure bill has unrelated items in it. Projects related to clean water, schools and high-speed rail all qualify as infrastructure projects, he said.
“When I'm talking about making sure you're in a situation where we can redo some of the federal buildings that are just absolutely leaking energy every single day, that's infrastructure,” he said. “And it gets to the roads and bridges and highways and broadband.”
"Everybody around the world is investing billions and billions of dollars in infrastructure, and we're going to do it here," he told reporters at the White House Monday morning.
Biden also defended the position on his plan to hike the corporate tax rate to pay for the $2.25 trillion proposal.
Parliamentarian weighs in on another reconciliation measure
The Senate parliamentarian may have offered a big break to the chamber’s Democrats early Monday evening. According to a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the parliamentarian “has advised that a revised budget resolution may contain budget reconciliation instructions.”
That could allow Democrats to use the reconciliation process to move another bill without support from Senate Republicans. “While no decisions have been made on a legislative path forward … the Parliamentarian’s opinion is an important step forward that this key pathway is available to Democrats if needed,” the spokesman added.
Minnesota corn growers want simplification of USDA biofuel infrastructure program
As Congress looks to craft an infrastructure bill this spring, corn growers say USDA’s grant program to improve gasoline blender pumps for biofuels should be simplified.
Brian Thalmann, a board member of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, told Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Monday that applying for the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentives Program can be complex.
“Simplification would be helpful because I know there were some (retailers) who threw up their hands and said, ‘I can’t take the time to apply for this,’” Thalmann noted.
It would help retailers who only need to make small infrastructure improvements, spreading dollars further, he said. 
 In May 2020, USDA made $100 million available in competitive grants designed to expand the sale and use of ethanol and biodiesel fuels.
By the way: Klobuchar said she is working to get a co-sponsored bill with Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa in the upcoming infrastructure package. The bill would authorize $500 million over five years for infrastructure grants for fuel retailers.
Global renewable energy capacity increases, international group finds
Global renewable energy capacity additions in 2020, mostly in wind and solar, “beat earlier estimates and all previous records despite the economic slowdown that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.
IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 shows more than 80% of all new electricity capacity added last year was renewable, with solar and wind accounting for 91% of new renewables.
In the bioenergy arena, however, net capacity expansion fell by half in 2020 (2.5 gigawatts compared to 6.4 GW in 2019). Bioenergy capacity in China expanded by over 2 GW. Europe was the only other region with significant expansion in 2020, adding 1.2 GW of bioenergy capacity.
“Priorities for bioenergy will include the production of advanced biofuels for the aviation and shipping sectors, the production and use of renewable fuels and feedstock for the chemical industry, and some use for heating in specific industry sub-sectors,” the report said.
Vietnamese cotton imports on the rise after pandemic disruptions
Vietnam’s textile industry is recovering quickly from earlier pandemic disruptions and its cotton imports are on the rise, but not from the U.S., according to a new analysis from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. That’s because the U.S. is preoccupied with meeting the rising demand coming out of China.
The FAS office in Hanoi is predicting that U.S. cotton exports to Vietnam will fall by 10% in the 2020-21 marketing year “as Vietnamese spinners are encountering difficulties in buying U.S. cotton due to major purchases by China.”
Brazil, meanwhile, is scrambling to take advantage of Vietnam’s import needs. Brazil, FAS says, is “using this opportunity to increase its cotton exports to Vietnam and will see its market share continue to grow” in the 2021-22 marketing year.
Overall, Vietnam is expected to see its cotton imports increase by 5% to 6.8 million bales in 2020-21 and then increase again to 7.1 million bales in 2021-22.
Brazil soy harvest nearly 80% complete
Brazil’s soybean harvesting pace is still a little behind what it was last year, but farmers there have caught up to the five-year average and are now 78% finished, according to the latest report by the consulting firm AgRural.
Harvesting in the largest soybean state of Mato Grosso is complete, and most other major producing states are “in the final stretch,” according to AgRural. Rio Grande do Sul is still delayed after a late planting, but yields appear strong.
AgRural said this week it is leaving its production forecast for the country unchanged at 133 million metric tons.
Producers begin corn planting
A mere 2% of the nation’s corn crop has been planted, according to USDA’s first Crop Progress report of the growing season. Texas leads the way at 55% planted followed by Kansas at 2%, and Missouri, North Carolina, and Tennessee at 1%. Planting is in line with the five-year average of 2%, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said.
He said it: “I’m going to push as hard as I can to change the circumstances so we can compete with the rest of the world.” – President Joe Biden, discussing his infrastructure plans with reporters Monday.
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