With eye on second-generation biofuels, EPA proposes 10 percent increase in RFS

The EPA proposed a 10 percent increase, mostly reserved for cleaner-burning “advanced” biofuels, over three years in the federal mandate to mix biofuels into the U.S. gasoline supply, and said it would expand the Renewable Fuel Standard to include electricity generated from biogas and used in electric vehicles. The proposal, announced Thursday, would mean greater use of E15 and other blends of corn ethanol above the traditional 10 percent, said ethanol groups.

Farm income jumps 14 percent to record high

High commodity prices, due in part to warfare in Ukraine, will propel U.S. net farm income to a record $160.5 billion this year, despite a steep climb in expenses, said the Agriculture Department on Thursday. Farm income, a gauge of profitability, would be 14 percent higher than last year.

Today’s quick hits, Dec. 2, 2022

Trouble for Starbucks: The National Labor Relations Board ruled Wednesday that Starbucks violated labor law by refusing to bargain with unionized workers at its Seattle mega-cafe. (Bloomberg) Congress imposes rail contract: Acting a day after the House, the Senate voted, 80-15, to impose a …

Paid sick leave an issue as rail shutdown bill advances to Senate

President Biden urged the Senate to vote by the end of the week to avert a nationwide rail freight shutdown that would wound the U.S. economy. On a bipartisan roll call, the House passed legislation on Wednesday to impose a contract on railroad labor unions. The so-called tentative agreement was reached in negotiations aided by the administration.

Report: Research is key to thwarting climate impact on agriculture

The global demand for food is rising at the same time that climate change is affecting agricultural production, especially in developing nations, said a new report that calls for increased funding of agricultural research and extension programs to boost productivity on smallholder farms.

Today’s quick hits, Dec. 1, 2022

EU’s carbon trade deficit: To reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 55 percent by 2030, the EU is planning to divert croplands to bioenergy, though doing so will increase food and biofuel imports. Already the EU uses one hectare of land abroad for every four it uses in Europe, creating a “land …

USDA: As the world economy slows, so will U.S. farm exports

U.S. farm exports will fall back to $190 billion this fiscal year, a drop of 4 percent from the record set in just-ended fiscal 2022, as economic growth slows in most countries, forecast the Agriculture Department on Tuesday. Soybeans, the No. 1 ag export, as well as cotton and corn would see the largest declines, jointly falling by 7 percent.

Report: Fight for $15 movement tackles racial wealth gap

In 2012, a group of 200 fast-food workers walked off the job in New York City and demanded a $15 hourly wage and a union. In the decade since, the “Fight for $15,” as the movement came to be called, has secured higher wages for more than 26 million workers, lowered the racial wealth gap in many states and pumped more than $87 billion into local economies, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Farm bill priorities: More stewardship, less reliance on subsidies

The 2023 farm bill should eliminate wasteful subsidies to the biggest farmers and landowners in favor of programs that reach more producers at a lower cost, said a coalition of budget hawks, a consumer group and a small farm advocate in a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday.

Today’s quick hits, Nov. 30, 2022

‘Be more pro-producer’: Zach Ducheneaux, head of USDA’s Farm Service Agency, said at a Chicago Federal Reserve Bank conference, “I think we’ve got to be more pro-producer” in operating the agency’s farm lending programs and offer friendlier terms. (FERN’s Ag Insider) House vote on rail bill: …

U.S. disaster payments are needed, say organic livestock producers

Abnormally high feed costs, partly the result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, are ruining organic livestock producers and federal relief payments are vital to keep farmers in business, said organic trade groups and businesses. "A perfect storm of trade disruptions, international conflicts and acute drought conditions has created a situation no farmer could have planned for or foreseen," said the 13 groups in a letter to lawmakers released on Monday.

‘Golden rice’ production to expand in the Philippines

Farmers in the Philippine province of Antique reaped 67 tonnes of so-called golden rice from 17 fields in the first "substantial" harvest of the GMO variety that contains beta-carotene, which is used by the body to create vitamin A. Cultivation will expand to an additional 17 provinces in the next step of development and testing of the rice, said ETH Zurich, a science and technology university in Switzerland and a financial backer of golden rice, on Monday.

Today’s quick hits, Nov. 29, 2022

GMO corn push: On a visit to Mexico, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack threatened legal action over the country’s plan to ban GMO corn and other products by 2024. (USDA) Missed infections: Climate change is causing soil-borne lung infections to appear in places where they haven’t …

Farmland values gallop higher despite interest rate increases

Strong commodity prices are creating opportunities for U.S. farmers to profit despite the risks posed by drought and higher production costs, said the Ag Finance Update by the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. Farmland prices surged an average of 20 percent in the Farm Belt during the summer as buyers shrugged off sharply higher interest rates.

Bird flu losses break record

A record 50.54 million birds in domestic flocks have died of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), or were culled to prevent spread of the viral disease since February, according to USDA data.

Today’s quick hits, Nov. 28, 2022

Adaptation or aberration?: Environmentalists say wetlands will suffer and big farmers will benefit from a French program to construct huge reservoirs to capture rainwater to irrigate farmland. (New York Times) Record land-fallowing: Drought forced California farmers to idle 10 percent of …

In California’s Central Valley, Valadao prevails in race for Congress

California dairy farmer David Valadao, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump, defeated Democratic state legislator Rudy Salas for a fifth term in the House representing the agriculture-rich Central Valley, according to unofficial results. The victory expanded the GOP majority in the upcoming session to 219 seats — a one-vote cushion — with four races yet to be decided.

Oil and biofuel groups agree on year-round E15

As a gateway to year-round sales of E15 gasoline, Congress should adjust air pollution laws so they apply equally to all blends of ethanol, said groups ranging from the oil industry and fuel retailers to farmers and biofuel makers. In a joint letter Tuesday, the groups said the waiver would …

Today’s quick hits, Nov. 23, 2022

Pay for livestock disasters: Meatpackers would be required to prepare disaster plans and contribute to a fund to assist producers culling livestock during catastrophes, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, under a bill unveiled by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. (Booker) First step in Ag Census: The …

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