As promised, Senate Democrats are going to kick off work on their massive $3.5 trillion spending and tax plan before senators leave for their August recess. On Monday Democrats released a fiscal 2022 budget resolution that is the first step in the budget reconciliation process that will be needed to enact their proposals into law.
The resolution is scant on details, but that's by design. Instead, it directs committees to write provisions allocating their portions of the upcoming reconciliation bill, including $135 billion for agriculture and child nutrition programs. That funding would include the money that Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., wants to use to beef up USDA conservation programs.
Keep in mind: A memo to Senate Democrats says the reconciliation package will include immigration provisions offering “lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants.” That would likely include farmworkers, but the Senate parliamentarian may not allow immigration provisions to be included in the legislation.
What’s next: The Senate will hold a vote-a-rama on the budget resolution where any senator will get to offer amendments. Republicans will likely propose amendments that attempt to put Democrats on the record on issues that GOP candidates can use in the 2022 campaign.
Drought and more rain predicted as global warming continues, IPCC says
Global warming is increasing the frequency of extreme weather events such as drought and heavy rains, a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says.
“With every additional increment of global warming, changes in extremes continue to become larger,” the report said. “For example, every additional 0.5°C of global warming causes clearly discernible increases in the intensity and frequency of hot extremes,” including heat waves, heavy precipitation, and agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions.
Agriculture can help lower atmospheric emissions by sequestering carbon, but “a decline in atmospheric CO2 as a result of net negative emissions would not lead to immediate reversal of all climate change trends,” the report said.
Recent research has shown that global surface temperature starts to drop within a few years following a decline in atmospheric CO2, but “the decline would not be detectable for decades due to natural climate variability,” the report said.
The report does not predict how much the temperature will increase but offers five different scenarios, under each of which global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least mid-century. “Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades,” the report says.
Senators press for aid to pork producers
Senators from Iowa and Minnesota are urging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to make sure that contract hog producers qualify for an upcoming round of coronavirus relief assistance.
Previous rounds of COVID aid were restricted to producers who owned their animals, but Congress has authorized payments to contract producers.
“Our livestock and poultry contract growers have been waiting patiently for USDA to provide financial relief that so many desperately need,” the four senators say in a letter to Vilsack.
“We’re concerned that USDA’s announcement on June 15 – that described its intent to finalize this program within 60 days – only focused on poultry growers and made no mention of providing assistance to contract swine growers,” they said.
Iowa Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley are both Republicans. Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith are Democrats.
US ag exports to Cuba climb on poultry trade
Cuban imports of U.S. ag goods in June were strong, compared to the same month in recent years, with much of that strength due to the continued robust trade in poultry, according to a new analysis from the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council.
The U.S. shipped about $28.3 million worth of ag commodities to Cuba in June, up 413% from the roughly $5.5 million in June of last year. Cuba’s imports were hit hard by the pandemic last year, but U.S. exports to the island nation are also significantly stronger than in 2019. The U.S. shipped about $18.8 million worth of farm goods to Cuba in June of 2019.
“We’re quite pleased,” said Jim Sumner, president and CEO of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council. “Cuba has been very beneficial to our industry and is now our third largest export market, behind only Mexico and China.”
Aviation fuel tax credit needs to be based on accurate carbon accounting, groups say
Renewable fuels advocates are urging key Capitol Hill lawmakers to base a potential tax credit for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on accurate carbon accounting.
In a letter to the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, groups including Growth Energy and the American Farm Bureau Federation said many of their members “are poised to produce SAF or sustainable feedstocks for SAF” but that the tax credit must “properly account for the lifecycle emissions of these sources and the petroleum products these new fuels will replace.”
The groups called carbon intensity estimates by the International Civil Aviation Organization for some SAF sources, which are used in current legislative proposals, “wildly inaccurate and incorrectly penalized” and asked that the Department of Energy be given the lead for developing the lifecycle analysis.
“At minimum, the DOE should be a full and equal partner in this role” with EPA and USDA, they said. Other groups on the letter are the National Biodiesel Board, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union and the Renewable Fuels Association.
He said it: “Today’s climate report shows the very serious situation we are in. We can no longer avoid all effects of climate change, but it's within our power to avoid tremendous misery if we act on climate change now with our full conviction.” That was Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del., reacting to the new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
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