The top Republican on the Senate Ag Committee, John Boozman of Arkansas, insisted at the summit that he’s still focused on getting a farm bill passed this year. "If you talk to the average person in Congress, most members of Congress want to get the farm bill done on both sides."

But his predecessor, former Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts, R-Kan., doesn’t think there’s much chance of a bill passing this year. "It's unfortunate, but I think we're in a situation where the chances for a farm bill this year are slim to none. And slim just left town,” Roberts said in an interview on the sidelines of the Agri-Pulse summit.

Roberts noted that Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., remains opposed to reallocating funding provided to conservation programs through the Inflation Reduction Act. But Roberts says there are issues with the hard-line conservatives within House Republicans. "We have to reconcile ourselves to the fact that there's too much opposition among some of the Republican Party, the Freedom Caucus,”

He went on, “Maybe we can get past this election, get past some of the more partisan groups and then get down to business very quickly. We all know what we'd like to do. It's just the access to the money to do it.”

Chairwoman Stabenow reiterated where she stood on the bill. Read more on

Mexico displeased with ‘Product of USA’ rule

Mexico’s frustrations over the Agriculture Department’s recent decision to finalize a rule limiting “Product of the USA” labels to meat, poultry and eggs that have never left the United States has the nation considering its options.

Mexico’s Ministry of Economy, in a press release translated by Agri-Pulse using Google, decried the rule, which it says “is discriminatory against Mexican producers,” who exported $3 billion worth of beef last year. The rule, they say, also “contravenes the principles of economic integration that underlie the [U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement].”

Mexico sees “constructive dialogue” as its “preferred path” forward, but said it would “carefully analyze the possibility of using the mechanisms available in both the [USMCA] and the World Trade Organization” to address its trade concerns.

USDA’s perspective: "With the final rule, USDA is doing its job to protect consumers from misleading label claims,” Agriculture Department spokesperson Allan Rodriguez said in a statement. "The Product of USA claim is not mandatory — with the final rule, it remains a voluntary claim. USDA will continue to engage with our trading partners to address any questions or concerns they might have.”

Petition seeking waiver of cellulosic biofuel obligation denied

EPA has denied a petition from the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers asking the agency for a partial waiver of the cellulosic biofuel standard under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

AFPM filed the petition in December, saying EPA needed to address a “significant shortfall” in cellulosic biofuel production under the RFS, which if left uncorrected “will harm U.S. refineries and consumers and create additional volatility in the D3 Renewable Identification Number (RIN) market.”

EPA, however, determined that there are enough cellulosic RINs, and “compliance flexibilities exist for obligated parties to comply with the existing 2023 cellulosic biofuel standard.”

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Even if the number of available cellulosic RINs “ultimately falls short of the number of RINs needed for obligated parties to satisfy their cellulosic biofuel obligations for 2023, … we do not expect that the shortfall would be of such a magnitude that obligated parties would be forced into non-compliance with their RFS obligations,” EPA said in its denial.

Feed industry group worried about EPA’s formaldehyde assessment

The American Feed Industry Association is concerned that EPA’s draft risk evaluation of formaldehyde could result in unnecessary workplace restrictions and prevent use of the chemical to combat African Swine Fever if the disease should make its way to the U.S.

In its document, EPA said it had “determined with high confidence that most formaldehyde conditions of use can lead to adverse health outcomes based on calculated risk estimates if workers are not protected from breathing or touching formaldehyde.”

The draft evaluation, prepared to comply with the Toxic Substances Control Act, will undergo public comment before EPA makes a final determination on whether the substance presents an unreasonable risk to health and the environment. EPA said it would release a separate risk evaluation under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

But AFIA’s Leah Wilkinson, vice president of public policy and education, said in a statement “the U.S. animal food industry must have access to this safe and effective tool.” AFIA said it’s working with other animal agriculture groups and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) to oppose the agency’s efforts “to further regulate formaldehyde.” 

Energy Department: Biomass production could feasibly expand to more than 1 billion tons annually

Biomass production could “sustainably” triple in the U.S. to more than 1 billion tons per year, with the most potential for this growth coming from energy-producing crops that can be grown outside of prime cropland, according to a new Energy Department report.

The U.S. could produce an additional 400 million tons of biomass each year under the right market conditions, while still meeting demands for conventional crops, the report said. Much of this growth could come from “purpose-grown energy crops,” often perennial plants that can be grown on more marginal lands. 

These crops present a “comparative economic advantage” over other cropland uses in parts of the southern Plains, though not in “highly productive” regions supporting high-value crops. Energy crops could generate an additional 300 to 600 million tons of biomass per year, the report says.

One important finding: The report says production of 1 billion tons of biomass per year could support 60 billion gallons of fuel, or 1.7 times the quantity needed to meet the White House’s “Grand Challenge" to make the airline industry carbon neutral by 2050. 

He said it: "My prognosis? My prognosis is take two Advil and go home and relax." – Former Ag Secretary Dan Glickman, asked about his “prognosis” for the farm bill.

Philip Brasher and Noah Wicks contributed to this report.

Questions, comments, tips? Email Steve Davies