House Ag Committee Chair Glenn Thompson tells Agri-Pulse he’s looking at several options for funding the next farm bill, including restrictions on the Commodity Credit Corp. and unspent pandemic relief assistance.
The Biden administration “dipped into billions from the CCC” for programs “that were not within the scope of eligibility, I don’t believe,” Thompson, R-Pa., told Agri-Pulse’s Sara Wyant during an appearance in Kansas City on Monday. He’s referring in part to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack’s $3 billion climate-smart commodities initiative.
Why it matters. Agri-Pulse is told a restriction on CCC funding could yield as much as $10 billion in savings for use in the farm bill.
By the way: A Senate Agriculture subcommittee takes a deep dive today into the farm bill commodity title and the differences between farm groups on what Congress should do about the programs.
Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, and Rob Larew, who heads the National Farmers Union, will be the leadoff witnesses.
The subcommittee also will hear from representatives of 10 commodity groups. Most of the same groups testified at a marathon House Ag subcommittee hearing last week. While there’s broad support for addressing reference prices in the Price Loss Coverage program, there are some meaningful differences.
Thompson plans task force to dig into workforce issues
Thompson also says he’ll be announcing plans later this month for a special task force that will look at ag workforce issues, with the hope of agreeing on a bipartisan bill that Congress can consider.
“My hope, my vision is we build one bill, not five or six, but one bill, that the members of the Agriculture Committee can kind of rally around,” he said. He says the task force will be tasked with identifying what’s producing “the lack of certainty and reliability” around ag labor, how that affects food security, and what to do about the problem.
But, but, but: He acknowledged the legislation would have to go through the House Judiciary Committee.
Thompson says formation of the task force is permitted under House rules and has the support of the committee’s ranking member, Democrat David Scott of Georgia.
USDA gets NMPF petition, responds to IDFA
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has another petition to examine as it determines its approach to Federal Milk Marketing Order Reform.
The National Milk Producers Federation submitted its petition Monday and billed it as a more comprehensive approach than the processor-backed documents submitted earlier this year. NMPF, which represents producers, is also pushing for farm bill language to call on USDA to do regular reviews of the so-called “make allowances” used to determine dairy production costs.
As for IDFA: USDA on Friday asked the International Dairy Foods Association, which represents dairy processors, for additional information as part of its petition.
Jacqui Fatka has the latest, including the specifics USDA wants from IDFA, in her coverage on Agri-Pulse.com.
EPA may be balking on EV RFS proposal
EPA may delay a decision due June 14 on whether to allow electric vehicles to generate credits under the Renewable Fuel Standard, Reuters reported Monday.
Citing “two sources familiar with the matter,” the news service said the Biden administration may separate the EV provisions from the overall blending targets proposal because of concerns about legal challenges.
University of Illinois economist Scott Irwin said in a Twitter thread that he thinks the demand for renewable diesel is the real reason behind the reconsideration of the Renewable Volume Obligation proposal, which is expected to cover three years’ worth of biofuel blending targets and must be finalized by June 14 in line with a consent decree.
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There has been “major dismay among RD producers and feedstock producers (re: soybean farmers), when EPA announced proposed RVOs for RFS for 2023-25. RVOs did not ‘accommodate’ the boom in RD capacity. Soybean oil market has been in a tailspin ever since.”
Behind-the-scenes lobbying “has to have focused on ways to get the total RVO increased for 23-25,” Irwin said. “First target: kill the eRINs program and slide that implied RVO from the D3 (cellulosic) to the D4/D5 (biodiesel/advanced biofuel) pool.”
Federal Railroad Administration warns railways on long trains
The Federal Railroad Administration is asking railroad companies to pay closer attention to the impacts that using longer trains can have on safety.
The agency released a safety advisory Monday recommending railroads work to prevent communications losses between end-of-train devices, lessen the impacts long trains may have on blocked crossings, and review operating rules and locomotive engineer certification programs to address “operational complexities” associated with train length.
Take note: The FRA specifically pointed to three “significant” derailment events since 2022 involving trains with more than 200 cars in its report. The agency said these incidents were potentially caused by train makeup and handling.
Beef board membership would change slightly under proposal
Idaho would get one more representative on the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, and Pennsylvania and Montana would each lose one, under a proposed rule issued by the Agricultural Marketing Service today.
The proposal also would remove the Maryland Industry Beef Council from the membership because cattlemen in that state voted to dissolve it.
The overall membership of the board would go from 101 to 99.
He said it: “I am proud of all I have done for Maryland. I have given my heart and soul to our great state, and I thank Marylanders for trusting me as your representative for all these years. Thank you, Maryland.” – Ben Cardin, U.S. senator from Maryland, on Twitter. Cardin announced Monday he won’t be running again next year after three terms in the Senate.