“An EPA hearing in Arlington, Virginia Thursday on its proposal to roll back its mandate for blending ethanol and biodiesel into the nation’s fuel supply next year drew bewildered opposition from corn farmers and the biofuels industry and faint praise from oil interest who said it didn’t go far enough.
And the Obama Administration found itself in a strange political limbo that drew praise from a Tea Party organization funded by the Koch brothers while the legal counsel to former South Dakota Democratic Senator Tom Daschle who helped write the energy law’s renewable fuel standard was dumbfounded that a Democratic president appears to have caved in to the oil industry.
EPA is citing the “blend wall,” the oil industry’s inability to sell more than 10% ethanol in its motor fuels, as a reason to roll back the mandate for all biofuels to 15.2 billion gallons, less than for this year and far below some 18 billion gallons Congress mandated in its 2006 energy law. The roll back includes about 13 billion gallons of mostly corn-based ethanol, down from the 2013 level of 13.8 billion gallons and less than the original target of 14.4 billion gallons.
The agency is using a waiver that relies on limits in the pipeline to consumers to justify lowering the mandate, but Jonathan Lehman, who was Daschle’s counsel when the RFS was written, told EPA regulators Thursday that Congress rejected an amendment that a would have allowed the oil industry to use lack of infrastructure as an excuse to not sell a fuel it doesn’t like.
“That a Democratic administration appears to grant it that authority is no short of mind-blowing,” said Lehman, who spoke on behalf of the American Coalition for Ethanol.)
“A new national campaign to restrict use of a widely applied group of pesticides is bringing increased attention to the question of how to improve the health of honeybees and other pollinators.
This week a full-page advertisement appeared in major U.S. newspapers calling for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to impose a moratorium on use of neonicotinoids, a type of chemical used in seed treatments and other insecticides.
A large group of advocacy and environmental organizations, organic food businesses, and agricultural activists signed the petition, which cites the website Save-Bees.org. The ad was paid for by the Ceres Trust.
The ad also endorsed a U.S. House Bill, Saving America’s Pollinators Act, which seeks to require EPA to suspend the registration of a group of neonicotinoid insecticides used in seed treatments and other products until proving that the insecticide aren’t causing “unreasonable adverse effects” on pollinators.
“This week, 15 countries are imposing a two-year restriction on the use of several of these chemicals,” the ad stated. Currently, EPA is not expected to take further action until 2018, the ad stated. “Bees can’t wait five more years — they are dying now.”
The pollinators bill in the House, introduced by Representative John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), is cosponsored by 38 Democrats. In other recent action, House Republicans prepared a draft report directing EPA to further review neonicotinoids for their impact on pollinators. The draft from the House appropriations committee stated that research suggests that the pesticides increase threats to bee health, according to a report from Insideepa.com.”
“Was it just down to the uncertainty in markets ahead of much-anticipated jobs data?
Or was it because of the chill weather expected hitting the US.
Whatever, Chicago wheat did manage small gains on Friday, after matching, for the benchmark March lot, a contract closing low in the last session.
Minneapolis spring wheat – which has set contract lows after spring wheat giant Canada hiked its harvest forecast on Wednesday – made a little headway too.”
“Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture has issued a surprise tender to purchase a total of 162,011 tonnes of Canadian Western Red Spring wheat as it looks to negate the impact of possible future shipping delays, a government official said on Friday.
The supplementary tender is to offset any delays caused by a possible increase in activity at Canadian ports due to bumper harvests or by winter weather, and does not mark a change in Japan’s wheat buying procedures, the farm ministry official said.”
“Delegates from 159 World Trade Organization countries are debating a modest package of agricultural proposals this week that if approved would mark the first WTO progress in 12 years.
Some influential voices at the meeting argue it is the last chance for the WTO to salvage credibility as a forum for trade negotiations.
The ninth ministerial meeting began Dec. 3 and will end Dec. 6.
On Dec. 3, a senior WTO official warned that the organization will be damaged for years if member countries cannot approve this bundle of “low hanging fruit.”
It could also throw the future of the 12-year Doha Development Round negotiation into grave doubt.
WTO chief spokesperson Keith Rockwell told reporters a modest agricultural deal is possible and would add new life to the organization.
“The gaps are easily solvable,” he said. “We are close and if we can’t deliver here, it makes one wonder what we could deliver on.”
“Canada is overflowing with malting barley and some of it is going to remain in bins longer than farmers had hoped, say industry officials.
Agriculture Canada estimates growers produced 1.5 to two times more malting barley than normal this year.
Dale Matchett, a malt barley merchant with Richardson International, doesn’t think it was double the normal amount but it could easily be 1.5 times the usual.
That is going to be a problem because barley exports have been extremely slow. Shipments were 38 percent below last year’s pace through Week 16 of the 2013-14 crop year, despite having an additional one million tonnes of barley supply.”
“Bitter cold temperatures and ice are posing a threat to livestock and portions of the U.S. winter wheat crop into the weekend, an agricultural meteorologist said on Thursday.
“There may be some winterkill in the Plains but I don’t think it’s a major problem. A bigger issue will be the ice cover from northeast Texas into the Delta,” said Don Keeney, a meteorologist for MDA Weather Services.
Keeney said temperatures would fall to 3 degrees to 5 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (minus 16.1 Celsius to minus 15 Celsius) on Friday and Saturday in the Plains hard red winter wheat region, and a lack of snow cover could lead to winterkill in northwest Kansas and southwest Nebraska. “Most other areas should have a snow cover and that should protect the crop,” he said.”
“Grain and oilseed markets were little changed Thursday, mostly a few pennies per bushel down, but a late session surge allowed canola to post a slight gain.
The market was still digesting the implications of the huge Canadian crops outlined in the Statistics Canada production report on Wednesday.
That report said farmer grew almost 18 million tonnes of canola.”