Editor's note: There will be no weekly Agri-Pulse this week or next week. The newsletter will return Sept. 1. There will be no Daybreak the week of Aug. 23. Daybreak will return the week of Aug. 30.
The fresh produce sector is joining dairy processors and the supermarket industry in welcoming the Biden administration’s decision to boost SNAP benefits by 27%. The increase comes from revisions to the Thrifty Food Plan, a calculation that USDA uses to determine benefits. The increase is due in part to the fact that the revision is supposed to bring benefit levels in line with federal dietary guidelines.
"For decades, SNAP benefits have been calculated without adequate consideration of the wide variety of perishable commodities now available in the marketplace,” the United Fresh Produce Association said.
Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, said the increased benefits will “empower SNAP participants to access more of the nutrient-dense foods needed for healthier diets, especially among the food insecure and economically vulnerable.”
The Food Marketing Institute, whose member companies include grocery giants Walmart, Kroger and Amazon, also praised the increase.
Take note: Both House Republicans and the Trump administration battled to get provisions in the 2018 farm bill to cut the cost of SNAP. Instead, a little-noticed provision was added to the farm bill that required USDA to do the update to the Thrifty Food Plan announced Monday.
Ethanol groups eye reconciliation bill as E15 opportunity
Biofuel industry leaders say the Democrats’ partisan reconciliation bill could be a way to get year-round sales of E15 blended gasoline written into law.
American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings says the industry is looking for any opportunity to include text in legislation heading to President Joe Biden, whether that’s through reconciliation, a bipartisan bill, or an appropriations bill.
“We’ve got to find a solution, a fix to this issue before we get to May/June of 2022,” Jennings told Agri-Pulse.
In a 3-0 decision in July, federal judges ruled the legislative text in the Renewable Fuel Standard is insufficient to support a regulatory waiver authored by the Trump administration that allowed E15 to be sold during the summer driving season.
By the way: ACE is hosting its 34th annual convention in Minneapolis Thursday and will highlight the benefits of how biofuels can help reduce carbon emissions.
APHIS seeks comments on soybean containing Bt protein targeting nematodes
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has released draft documents on a petition from BASF seeking approval for a genetically engineered, herbicide-tolerant soybean variety that is resistant to soybean cyst nematode.
GMB151 soybean expresses Cry14Ab-1, the first Bt protein targeting nematodes to be commercialized.
EPA approved the trait last year after finding “a reasonable certainty of no harm from residues of this new active ingredient and that its uses will not cause unreasonable adverse effects to human health or the environment.”
APHIS similarly concluded that approval of nonregulatory status for the soybean would not affect threatened or endangered species or human health, nor would it affect soybean acreage, including organic soybeans.
The comment period runs until Sept. 16.
Idaho couple still in limbo over impact of wetlands
An Idaho couple may have to keep fighting in order to build on their land after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that EPA was correct in determining they had federally protected wetlands on their property.
Chantell and Michael Sackett had sought clarification about whether they can construct a home, but the court upheld EPA’s 2008 wetlands determination. The three-judge panel found the case was not moot as argued by the government, which “abruptly withdrew” a compliance order during briefing of the case last year.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the Sacketts could challenge the order, but the court, using the test put forth by former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 2006 Rapanos decision, said EPA “reasonably determined that the Sacketts’ property contains wetlands.”
Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Tony Francois said, “We are reviewing the decision and conferring with the Sacketts of course, but we think that this decision is erroneous and will be assessing the best course forward to free the Sacketts’ property from EPA’s illegal assertion of Clean Water Act authority over it.”
House Ag Chair asks USTR to confront EU on peanut trade barrier
House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott and Rep. Sanford Bishop, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, are asking U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to confront the European Union over regulations that are strangling U.S. peanut exports.
U.S. peanut exports to the EU have dropped sharply since the EU increased testing for aflatoxin at its ports in 2019. The EU is testing one of every 10 containers with a maximum allowable aflatoxin level of 4 parts per billion. The USDA sets that allowable level at 15 ppb.
“Your recent success resolving the aircraft tariff dispute was commendable, and the resolution of that dispute was a welcome sign to America's farmers,” Scott and Bishop say in a new letter to the USTR.
Haiti Earthquake complicates rice movement
A ship full of U.S. rice had just arrived in the Port of Cap Haitien when the earthquake hit the country on Saturday, according to a spokesperson for the USA Rice Federation. The vessel was able to unload and the buyers appear to have weathered the quake, but roads in the area are impassable and it’s unclear how the rice will be transported from the port.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman spoke to Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry and assured him that the U.S. “is already putting resources in place to support Haiti’s emergency response,” according to a statement released Sunday.
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