Today’s the deadline under a consent decree for EPA to propose its biofuel usage requirements for 2023 and likely subsequent years. The agency previously had until Nov. 16 to release the proposed renewable volume obligations, but the ethanol industry group Growth Energy agreed to give EPA until the end of the month.
Next year is the first year for which Congress hasn’t specified usage targets in law.
House set to vote to block rail strike
The House will vote today on legislation that would avert a crippling rail strike by imposing a contract on dissenting unions. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also announced plans for a separate vote on whether to add seven days of sick leave to the contract.
“After hearing from our members, we are in agreement that a nationwide rail strike must be prevented – and that more must be done to secure the paid sick leave that hard-working railroaders deserve,” Pelosi said.
Keep in mind: President Biden had called on Congress to pass the legislation “without any modifications or delay.”
Take note: The impact of a potential strike would start early for fertilizer shippers, since ammonia shipments would have to be pulled off the network five days before a strike were to begin.
That means rail carriers could not take shipments of ammonia by Sunday, even though a strike wouldn’t start until Dec. 9, Fertilizer Institute CEO Corey Rosenbusch told reporters.
National Grain and Feed Association President and CEO Mike Seyfert says a strike would also hit livestock producers that solely rely on rail for feed shipments. “We’d have severe shortages of feed in a very rapid period of time,” Seyfert said.
McDonald’s is accusing pork producers of colluding to limit production and increase pork prices.
A lawsuit has been filed in New York federal court against Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods, Hormel, JBS, Triumph Food and Seaboard Foods as well as Agri Stats, which compiled information for the companies.
The lawsuit charges the producers acted together “with the express intended purpose and expected result of increasing and stabilizing pork prices.”
In a similar class-action lawsuit in Minnesota, Tyson, Smithfield and JBS agreed to pay about $121 million collectively to settle the claims against them, without admitting wrongdoing.
The period covered by the lawsuit runs from Jan. 1, 2009, to the present.
Year-round E15 bill drops in Senate
A bipartisan bill to extend E15 sales beyond the summer has been introduced in the Senate by Republican Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
The effort to get year-round sales of the 15% ethanol blend is different this time because the American Petroleum Institute has joined the usual band of renewable fuel groups in supporting it.
Eyeing the future of ultraprocessed foods
Ultraprocessed foods account for over half of the daily calories consumed by adults in the U.S., Canada and Britain and have received growing attention on their potential negative health impacts. A new research note from Rabobank says there is a lot at stake for food companies, if consumer interest in the nutrition issue increases.
Foods are considered ultraprocessed when manufacturing extracts substances from commodities and alters them with chemicals and additives.
Nicholas Fereday, Rabobank executive director of food and consumer trends, says a move away from ultraprocessed products would benefit producers of fruits, vegetables, fresh meat and dairy products.
USDA has included the relationship of ultraprocessed foods and weight gain as a possible area of research for the panel of experts that advise on the next Dietary Guidelines for Americans, expected in 2026. FDA’s new regulations for “healthy” food claims likely also will address the level of processing in foods.
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“There is too much at stake for food companies not to play a role and be a part of any potential solution,” if consumers are concerned about the foods, according to Fereday. “Besides, if consumers do move against highly processed foods ahead of the science, companies will have to follow suit.”
Fereday also notes, “With rising GDP per capita, greater urbanization, and an insatiable consumer appetite for inexpensive, convenient forms of food, the world will need more processed foods, not less, in the future.”
USTR wants to know what industry leaders think about IPEF
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Commerce Department are holding two stakeholder listening sessions in December to hear what leaders in the U.S. agriculture, labor, manufacturing and other sectors have to say about the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
U.S. officials, including IPEF negotiators, will also be updating participants on progress.
The first session will be held in Washington on Dec. 6 and the second on Dec. 13 in Brisbane, Australia, on the sidelines of a negotiating round. The 14 countries participating besides the U.S. are Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
US rice gets bump up in promotional funds
U.S. rice groups have been awarded $5.6 million in funding for USDA’s Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development in FY23. That’s just a 1% increase, but the money is sorely needed, according to USA Rice.
“With our smaller crop this year it’s even more important that we provide promotional support to U.S. brands and importers in overseas markets to prevent market share loss to other rice exporters,” said USA Rice President and CEO Betsy Ward. “Given the myriad challenges the rice industry is facing, this funding couldn’t come at a better time.”
USDA has reduced its FY23 forecast for U.S. ag exports. Read about that in this week’s Agri-Pulse newsletter. We also have the latest on international prospects for a livestock drug, and we look at how USDA is targeting help to minority farmers in the climate projects it is funding.
He said it. “I think it'd be tough. That's about all I can say.” – Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, when asked about the prospects in the lame duck session for his bill that would mandate minimum levels of cash trading in cattle markets.
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