The Agriculture Department this morning is releasing the strategy it will follow in re-shaping programs and policies to help more farmers shift into “climate-smart” practices and to make money from doing so.

President Joe Biden called for the plan in an executive order issued shortly after he took office.

The USDA strategy, which steers clear of specific policy proposals, takes note of more than 2,700 comments that USDA received from farm groups, environmental groups and individuals on how the department should use new and existing programs, including crop insurance and conservation programs, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Read our report on the strategy at

China keeps buying more U.S. corn

USDA has announced yet another Chinese purchase of U.S. corn for delivery in the 2021-22 marketing year that begins Sept. 1. The Wednesday morning announcement was for 1.36 million metric tons.

The latest purchase brings the tally of Chinese purchases of U.S. new crop corn to 9.52 million tons, according to USDA data.

China’s demand for grain continues to surge as the country rebuilds its swine herd and invests in the modernization of its pork production industry. 

China’s Ministry of Agriculture is claiming the country’s national sow inventory has mostly recovered from the African swine fever outbreaks that rocked the sector, according to a recent report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Data from the Chinese ministry shows “large-scale slaughterhouses processed 14.2 million pigs in February, up by 71 percent year-on-year.”

UK seeks new trade deals with Canada, Mexico

The UK, in preparation for its exit from the European Union, signed quick trade deals with Canada and Mexico late last year, but now the British want to take another crack at those pacts and spur even more trade with the two countries.

“These continuity agreements provide the basis of our evolving trading relationships with Canada and Mexico, and a platform on which to build and strengthen those relationships, paving the way for us to begin negotiating new and ambitious trade deals with both countries,” said the British Department for International Trade.

Keep in mind: The British also want to continue trade talks with the U.S., but the Biden administration has signaled it’s not ready to pick up where the Trump administration left off in the negotiations.
A close-up of some pipes

Description automatically generated with low confidence

Court reverses three small refinery exemptions

In a victory for the ethanol industry, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down three small refinery exemptions the outgoing Trump administration issued to Sinclair Wyoming Refining Co. the day before President Joe Biden was inaugurated.

Biden’s EPA petitioned for a remand of the exemptions April 30, and Sinclair responded this week that it didn’t oppose EPA’s request.

“We’re pleased that the court has vacated these improperly granted waivers and is sending them back to EPA for reconsideration,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper. He said the exemptions would have erased blending requirements for 260 million gallons of renewable fuels.

Keep in mind: EPA’s biofuel waiver authority is now before the U.S. Supreme Court as the result of an earlier 10th Circuit decision.

Ethanol production peaks since pandemic began

Ethanol production has hit its highest level since March 2020, according to Energy Information Administration data.

Ethanol production increased to 43.34 million gallons a day for the week ending May 14, according to the data analyzed by RFA. Production was 56% above the same week last year, but 3.6% lower than the same period in 2019. For the month, ethanol production saw an uptick of 2.4% to a yearly rate of 14.98 billion gallons.

Gasoline demand rose 4.8% to 141.4 billion gallons annually. For the week, demand was 35.8% above this time last year, but 2.2% below the same week in 2019.

Keep in mind: Gasoline consumption may have been affected by the recent Colonial Pipeline closure.

A picture containing text, green, sign

Description automatically generated

CDC: Rural America slow to get vaccinated

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report suggests public health practitioners should work with pharmacies, community-based organizations, and faith leaders to increase lagging rural vaccination rates.

As of April 10, some 39% of rural Americans had received a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 46% in urban areas.

A higher percentage of people in rural areas had to travel to a nonadjacent county to get a shot, compared to urban residents, the report noted.

Women in both urban and rural settings were more likely to get vaccinated than men. The report suggested that was due to women likely seeking preventative care or working in healthcare or education fields that prioritized early vaccination.

Keep in mind: Nearly one-fifth of the U.S. population lives in rural counties, according to the U.S. Census.

EU issues first approval of an insect for human food

“Would you like a side of bugs with that?”

While that’s not a phrase you normally expect to hear at a restaurant, it could be a more common query following action this month by the European Food Safety Agency, which has issued its first-ever approval of a bug for human consumption, giving the official okay to dried yellow mealworms.

There are some insect food products on the European market because of a grandfather clause in the EU Novel Food Regulation established in 2018, according to a new report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.  The law required authorization for insects as food, but products that were already available and undergoing the authorization process can stay on the market.

Take note: Germany is already a relatively big market for insect-containing products such as cereal bars, chips, burgers, flour and pasta, FAS says.

They said it. “It’s in the best interest of all Americans that the tax code encourages investments in renewable energy and rewards individuals that shift their consumption to zero emissions vehicles and more efficient homes.” – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal at a hearing on how to fund infrastructure improvements.

But the committee’s top GOP member, Kevin Brady of Texas, said: “Even assuming the best long-term economic gains from infrastructure, America is a net loser with tax increases that slow hiring, hurt paychecks and take America backward to the bad old economic days of President Obama and Vice President Biden.”

Questions? Tips? Contact Philip Brasher at