UN Secretary-General António Guterres says he’s afraid Russia will pull out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative when it expires July 18. “I am concerned, and we are working hard in order to make sure that it will be possible to maintain this Black Sea initiative. And at the same time that we are able to go on in our work to facilitate Russian exports,” Guterres told reporters Monday.

The agreement was extended for two months in May, but Moscow quickly began blocking access to Ukrainian ports amid negotiations to remove a barrier to Russian ammonia exports.

Renewable diesel growth could be at stake in RFS

Officials in the renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel sectors are making a last-minute push to get EPA to raise its biofuel targets for 2023 through 2025. The agency is due to issue the multi-year renewable volume obligations as soon as Wednesday.

If the agency only raises its targets by 100 million or 200 million gallons, “that would certainly would be a negative for [Renewable Identification Number] prices as well as negative for renewable diesel producer margins, given the amount of capacity that’s coming online,” industry analyst Andrew Lipow told reporters on a webinar organized by the Advanced Biofuels Association. 

He said EPA’s proposed RVOs were based on consumption figures for biomass-based diesel that are well out of date, predicting renewable diesel production capacity should hit 4.1 billion gallons by the end of this year, 5.5 billion gallons in 2024 and 5.9 billion by the end of 2025.

Dave Kettner, president and general counsel for Virent, a biofuel subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corp., said if finalized as is, the EPA proposal, “could imperil the success and the emerging low carbon fuels market by devaluing advanced biofuels.”

ABFA is making a presentation to the White House Office of Management and Budget on the issue today.

By the way: ABFA President Michael McAdams told reporters he didn’t see any prospects for Congress to get involved in the issue this year or next. 

Washington dairies agree to reduce groundwater pollution

Two dairies in Washington state have settled a lawsuit with environmental groups by agreeing to take measures to reduce groundwater pollution, including double-lining of manure lagoons and monitoring wells for nitrates.

The dairies owned by Austin Jack DeCoster “will help restore the aquifer by remediating nitrate and ammonia contamination beneath the facilities’ lagoons,” the Center for Food Safety and other plaintiffs said in a news release announcing the proposed consent decree, which was filed in federal court in Washington.

The dairies also will close some waste lagoons, “improve land application of waste to avoid further contamination, and make other improvements to the infrastructure for waste storage and transport,” the groups said.

The dairies had about 10,000 animals when the complaint was filed in 2019, but have since scaled down to between 2,500 and 3,000, plaintiffs’ attorney Charlie Tebbutt said.

The dairies denied all claims. “All conduct during the relevant time frames has been subject to oversight, regulation and enforcement of such Permits by the Washington State Department of Ecology,” the defendants said in the decree.

All medically important antimicrobials now require veterinarian’s prescription

The Food and Drug Administration has another line of defense to prevent antimicrobial resistance in those drugs important to humans that are also used in animals. Farmers and ranchers will now need veterinarian prescriptions for medically important antimicrobials after animal drug makers voluntarily switched from over-the-counter labeling to prescription only. 

The change stems from FDA draft guidance issued in 2019 and final guidance that came out in 2021 which included a two-year timeline for the transition.

Species impacted by the guidance include cattle, swine, chickens, turkeys, horses, sheep, goats, cats and dogs. 

It’s easy to sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! For the latest on what’s happening in Washington, D.C. and around the country in agriculture, just click here.

Unlike human prescriptions for antibiotics that require a doctor visit, depending on the state, farmers and ranchers generally do not have a veterinarian examine each animal for which the prescription is issued, “as long as the veterinarian has established a valid [veterinarian-client-patient relationship] with the farmer or rancher that owns or cares for the animal in need of treatment,” FDA said in a fact sheet.

Past Bayer exec scheduled to testify in Roundup case

An Arkansas Supreme Court ruling has cleared the way for former Bayer CEO Werner Baumann to be deposed in a case brought by an Arkansas man alleging he contracted non-Hodgkin lymphoma from Roundup exposure.

The state’s high court found that there was no reason not to seek the testimony of Baumann, whose last day at Bayer was May 31. In upholding a lower court order that declined to block the deposition, the court said Bayer was seeking “extraordinary relief.”

Baumann’s testimony has been sought in other cases, but if he does indeed testify on decisions regarding Roundup use, it would be for the first time, lawyers for the plaintiffs said.

The deposition is scheduled to take place within 90 days of the court’s June 8 order.

House Ag to look at RD title, while Judiciary examines meat shipments bill

Today on Capitol Hill, members of the House Agriculture Committee will examine the farm bill's Rural Development title, while the House Judiciary Committee will look at regulatory barriers to entry and competition in meat processing.

The Ag Committee hearing will feature several different interests analyzing the title, which includes broadband, rural business and water and waste disposal programs. Representatives from the National Rural Lenders Association, the Plant Based Products Council, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, National Rural Water Association, Rural Community Assistance Partnership, and the National Cooperative Business Association are on the agenda.

The Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee will likely examine the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act, which is sponsored by subcommittee chair Thomas Massie, R-Kent. 

The bill would allow state-inspected custom-slaughtered meat to be sold across state lines.

The hearing will feature testimony from farmers Joel Salatin, Rosanna Bauman and Greg Gunthorp. Joe Trotter, director of the energy, environment and agriculture task force for the American Legislative Exchange Council, will also testify.

Questions, comments, tips? Email associate editor Steve Davies