The EPA is considering changes to a 2015 rule that requires pesticide handlers to be at least 18 years old and bars the application of pesticides if farmworkers are nearby, said Bloomberg.
The world's largest seed company, Monsanto is offering a 55 percent rebate to cotton and soybean growers who buy its weedkiller, dicamba, for 2018 crops, said Reuters. Weed specialists said the cash-back offer could persuade growers to buy the herbicide, and the pricey GE seeds that are paired with it, despite stricter EPA rules on who can apply the herbicide and when it can be used.
President Trump, a staunch supporter of corn ethanol, told nine senators from oil-producing states to take their complaints about federal biofuel mandates to their farm-state colleagues and find a mutually acceptable solution.
The inspector general’s office at the EPA will investigate an April meeting between EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and the National Mining Association, said The Hill newspaper.
Almost as soon as the EPA set the biofuel targets for the new year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested a waiver that would exempt one-fourth of U.S. refining capacity from the Renewable Fuel Standard for the coming year, reports Argus Media. Meanwhile, the White House was reported to schedule a meeting for Thursday between the oil industry and ethanol producers to discuss possible changes to the 10-year-old RFS.
Farm-state officials played their Trump card six weeks ago, calling in White House support to quash potential cuts in the Renewable Fuel Standard, which sets U.S. targets for biofuel consumption.
State agriculture commissioner Doug Goehring announced “North Dakota-specific” rules on use of the weedkiller dicamba on GE soybeans in the new crop year. They include a ban on spraying when temperatures top 85 degrees and a total cutoff of dicamba use after June 30.
The EPA rejected a petition by oil refiners to relieve them of the responsibility for blending biofuels into gasoline and diesel fuel, "dealing a blow to billionaire investor Carl Icahn and oil companies that had sought the change," reports Bloomberg. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt told farm-state lawmakers a few weeks ago that the agency was unlikely to change the "point of obligation," based on its preliminary analyses.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won’t let go of his “hold” on USDA nominee Bill Northey, said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, so he and fellow Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst have appealed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to arrange a vote. “We want to do it as soon after Nov. 30 as we can,” Grassley told ag reporters.