Court: EPA must consider environmental impact when setting ethanol mandate

The U.S. appeals court in Washington unanimously ordered the EPA to reconsider its Renewable Fuel Standard for 2018 because it failed to account for the potential impact of full-throttle corn production on endangered species and habitat. Even though the decision was directed at agency deliberations that took place in 2017, the Sierra Club, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said the EPA will have to take the ruling into account in writing the RFS for 2020.

Farmer confidence plunges as trade war expands

Although most producers say Trump tariff payments will "completely or somewhat" relieve the impact of the Sino-U.S. trade war on their operations, farmer confidence is plummeting, according to a Purdue University poll released Tuesday. The Ag Economy Barometer, a gauge of the health of the agricultural economy, fell from a record high of 153 in July to the lowest reading — 124 — since May.(No paywall)

Promise of Japan deal caps Trump’s turbulent weekend on trade

In 48-hour span, starting Friday, President Trump roiled global markets by Tweeting his intention to again raise tariffs on China and ordering U.S. companies out of the country, then appeared to backpedal, saying at the G7 summit he was having "second thoughts" about escalating the U.S.-Sino trade war. The weekend ended with a bit of potentially good news on trade, when Trump and Japan President Shinzo Abe announced an agreement "in principle" on a deal that would include Japan buying surplus corn from the U.S.

Lawmakers call for review of EPA’s ethanol waivers

A dozen lawmakers called on Wednesday for a review of the explosion in ethanol waivers awarded by the EPA in the past two years. In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, the lawmakers said many of the small-volume refineries that applied for waivers did not need them.

Largest ethanol maker closes Indiana plant, blames EPA waivers

At the same time that POET, the largest U.S. ethanol maker, said it was forced to shut down an Indiana plant due to EPA “mismanagement” of the ethanol mandate, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said that “farmers feel the government isn’t keeping its word” on biofuels.

Indemnities could soar to $3.6 billion for prevented planting

The wettest spring in a quarter-century may lead to the largest crop insurance payout since 2000 to farmers unable to plant corn and soybeans, said a university economist. He spoke ahead of a USDA report today that will project the impact of a cold and rainy spring on this fall’s harvest.

Farm Belt howls as EPA proposes no-growth biofuel mandate for 2020

The Trump administration proposed a Renewable Fuel Standard of 20.04 billion gallons for 2020, meaning no change in corn ethanol's share of the gasoline market for cars and light trucks, while the share of that market going to cleaner-burning cellulosic ethanol, made from grass and woody plants, will increase by 120 million gallons. Farm groups and biofuel makers, who opened the summer with a celebration that higher-blend E15 was approved for year-round sale, said the EPA bowed to Big Oil.

Far more corn, less soy than expected after rainy spring

Despite the wettest spring in a quarter century, U.S. farmers sowed nearly 6 percent more corn and 5 percent fewer soybeans than expected during a cold and muddy planting season, said the USDA, based on a survey of 68,100 growers during the first two weeks of June. The annual Acreage report usually provides a definitive picture of crops, but excessive rain slowed field work so much that the USDA said it will re-survey the Midwest this month and would revise its acreage data, if need be, in its August crop report.

For the second time, Nebraska has top U.S. farm district

Stretching from Wyoming to Iowa and larger in area than New York State, Nebraska’s 3rd congressional district is again the No. 1 farm district in the nation, with $16.6 billion in crop and livestock production, says the new edition of the Census of Agriculture.