The Republican attempt to tighten SNAP work requirements has gotten a lot of attention in recent days, because of its potential impact on farm bill negotiations. But the GOP debt-ceiling bill that the House could vote on as soon as next week also would gut critical tax incentives for biofuels and renewable energy that are included in the Inflation Reduction Act, the Democratic climate measure enacted last year.
Among other things, the GOP bill would scale back the 45Q tax credit for carbon sequestration. That credit could potentially benefit pipelines that could be used to sequester carbon from ethanol plants and lower the carbon intensity of corn ethanol.
The bill would repeal a new credit for low-carbon biofuels and sustainable aviation fuel. The new clean fuel production credit, known as 45Z, could allow ethanol plants to pay farmers a premium for corn that’s grown with climate-smart farming practices. The biodiesel tax credit, meanwhile, would be left to sunset at the end of 2022. Under the IRA, the biodiesel subsidy was extended to 2024, when it will be replaced by the 45Z credit.
What’s next: Even if the House moves the bill on a party-line vote, it can’t pass the Senate. But analysts at ClearView Energy Partners say McCarthy may have boxed himself in by trying to kill those and other IRA provisions.
The strategy may “protect McCarthy’s right flank while he moves the bill through the House, but conservatives seem unlikely to accept a paring back or elimination of those IRA rollbacks if talks progress,” the analysts say. But getting a debt-ceiling deal that Democrats will swallow likely means dropping most, if not all, of those IRA rescissions, the analysts add.
GOP House members criticize EPA atrazine review
Republican lawmakers are asking EPA to expand the scope of a scientific advisory panel that’s looking at issues surrounding atrazine herbicide. EPA is seeking nominations by April 24 for a SAP to look at the scientific justification for a contaminant benchmark – 3.4 parts per billion of atrazine – that EPA is using to determine what types of mitigation measures to require.
In a letter being sent today, more than three dozen House members say EPA’s announced review, focusing on only 11 studies, is too narrow. EPA needs to evaluate "all potential risks to the aquatic plant community and (use) well-rounded and complete scientific studies,” they said in their letter. They also asked that USDA be allowed to participate.
The request for nominations “is a step in the right direction, but the scope of the SAP must represent the full range of science available on atrazine,” said Rep. Mark Alford, R-Mo. He was joined by Rep. Tracey Mann, R-Kan., and three dozen other GOP lawmakers in the letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan.
Thune: Planted vs. base may be issue in farm bill
Senate GOP Whip John Thune, R-S.D., expects there to be discussion this year about tying commodity program payments to planted acres, rather than historical base acres. Payments are currently made on base acres, rather than actual plantings, to avoid influencing farmers’ decisions on what crops to grow in a given year.
“That clearly is an issue or reform that makes a lot of sense,” Thune said during an interview for this week’s Agri-Pulse Newsmakers. “Whether or not that could be accommodated within the budget framework that we have to work with remains to be seen.”
Newsmakers will be available today at Agri-Pulse.com.
Flooding expected on Upper Mississippi River
The Upper Mississippi River is rising as snowpacks are melting, and now the National Weather Service is predicting minor to moderate flooding on the waterway. Waters are expected to rise steadily over the next two weeks and the river is “expected to crest in the Dubuque area early next week and continue downriver,” the agency said.
The National Weather Service defines minor flooding as causing “some public threat or inconvenience” and moderate as bringing “some inundation of structures and roads” as well as causing some evacuations and possibly forcing the “transfer of property to higher elevations.”
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, quoting information from the American Commercial Barge Line, said flooding is expected to force the closure of locks 3 through 17 (roughly St. Paul, Minn., to southern Iowa).
“Many barge companies are working with shippers to move freight early to limit their commitments and redirecting empty barges to other markets not affected by the high water,” AMS says.
Strong week for US corn exports
The U.S. exported about 1.3 million metric tons of corn for the week of April 7-13, a 42% increase from the previous seven-day period and a 27% increase over the prior four-week average, according to the latest trade data out of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Most of that corn was shipped to Mexico (410,800 tons), but some was also sent to China (77,800 tons).
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As for export sales, the U.S. had a bigger week for new crop contracts. FAS reports export sales of 422,000 tons for delivery in the 2023-24 marketing year and only 312,400 tons sold for 2022-23 delivery. China was the largest destination for purchases in both marketing years.
Take note: The FAS report included an export sale of 44,100 tons of U.S. corn to Iraq for delivery in the 2022-23 marketing year, most of which was previously designated as going to “unknown destinations.” One industry analyst called the sale “a bit odd” because Iraq gets most of its corn from closer destinations like Ukraine, although it does buy some from South America, too. Most U.S. shipments to Iraq are traditionally smaller food aid donations.
FDA delays action on milk alternatives
FDA is reopening the public comment period for its draft guidance for labeling plant-based milk alternatives. The agency says it’s responding to “requests from stakeholders to allow additional time for interested persons to develop and submit comments.” The agency hasn’t announced a timetable for the additional comments.
He said it. “They are doing everything they can, these farmers and ranchers, to pass on that legacy to their kids and grandkids. They deserve conservation programs at USDA as imaginative as they are, as ambitious as the problems they seek to solve." – Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., at a Senate Ag subcommittee hearing on Thursday.
Steve Davies, Bill Tomson and Noah Wicks contributed to this report.