Senators spent the weekend finalizing the details of the massive bipartisan infrastructure bill and will now start debating amendments.
“This legislation represents the most significant investment in our infrastructure since the construction of the international highway system,” declared Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins, one of the group of 10 negotiators who took turns talking about their bill on the Senate floor Sunday night.
The legislation would provide $550 billion in new spending for roads and bridges, inland waterways, rural broadband and other needs.
Lawmakers urge EPA to issue RFS volume proposals
A bipartisan group of 29 lawmakers known as the House Biofuels Caucus are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to issue renewable volume obligations in the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2021 and 2022 and increase advanced biomass-based diesel volumes for 2022 and 2023.
“Low-carbon advanced biofuels are important to states and cities that are pursuing carbon reduction goals for clean, low-carbon transportation and home heating programs,” the letter reads. Biomass-based diesel reduces carbon emissions by an average of 74% compared to petroleum diesel, lawmakers noted.
The EPA has yet to issue proposed volume requirements for 2021. The agency must finalize proposed volumes by Nov. 30, according to the RFS.
President, House Speaker talk of including immigration reform in the reconciliation bill
As he boarded Marine One Thursday night, President Biden said he thinks the immigration proposal should be in the reconciliation bill. At a news conference the following day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also said that she thought it should be included.
Their statements come after the American Farm Bureau Federation released a letter early last month urging the President to do something about the surge of illegal immigrants coming from the Southern Border. AFBF said its members have reported crop and property damage as a result of the influx.
Keep in mind: The Senate parliamentarian may not allow immigration provisions to be included in a budget reconciliation bill.
Groups petition to list gray wolves as endangered in the West
Seventy conservation, indigenous and animal welfare groups have signed on to a petition to re-list the gray wolf as endangered species throughout the West, citing new laws in Idaho and Montana allowing killing of the animals.
“The re-listing of these wolves … should be a priority for prompt action because new laws in Idaho and Montana, and longstanding wolf management in Wyoming, are intended to reduce gray wolf populations in the core wolf recovery zone by 85 to 90 percent by incentivizing wolf killing and authorizing use of new methods to kill wolves,” the petition says.
It seeks endangered status for wolves in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, California, Nevada, and northern Arizona. Gray wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list last October.
US wheat export sales get boost from China
U.S. export sales of wheat for the week of July 16-22 got a boost from relatively large commitments from Chinese buyers, according to the latest trade data out of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. China purchased 128,900 metric tons of U.S. wheat for delivery in the 2021-22 marketing year during the seven-day period, making it the largest purchaser and helping push up the weekly total for sales to all destinations to 515,200 tons.
The U.S. also shipped 65,300 tons of wheat to China during the week, but Mexico was the primary destination, taking 84,600 tons.
China, however, was the largest destination for U.S. corn exports from July 16-22. The U.S. shipped 698,700 tons of corn to China, more than double the 308,500 tons that the U.S. shipped to Japan, the second largest destination for the week.
USDA IG tapped to also lead inspector general’s office at federal housing agency
Phyllis Fong, inspector general at USDA, has taken on additional duties as acting inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Fong, who has been at USDA since 2002, will be the senior official in the FHFA Office of Inspector General responsible for audits, investigations, and other oversight activities relating to programs and operations.
The FHFA regulates Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 11 Federal Home Loan Banks.
ASF symptoms to watch for
The detection of African swine fever last week in the Dominican Republic – the closest it’s been to the U.S. in decades – has U.S. pork producers on edge, and the National Pork Board is asking farmers to be on the lookout for any signs of the virus in their herds.
Here are the five symptoms to watch for, according to the Pork Board:
- High fever
- Decreased appetite and weakness
- Red, blotchy skin or skin lesions
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Coughing and difficulty breathing
“Producers should step up their biosecurity measures by working with their veterinarian,” says the Pork Board. “This is especially important since the ASF virus can easily travel on shoes and clothing.”
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The morning edition of Daybreak reported African Swine Fever had been detected in Haiti; the virus has been detected in the Dominican Republic.