U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a one-time extension for producers to update their base acres or yield history for Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). The new deadline is March 31, 2015, which is also the final day farm owners and producers can choose ARC or PLC coverage. "This is an important decision for producers, because these programs provide financial protection against unexpected changes in the marketplace,” Vilsack said. If no changes are made to yield history or base acres by the new deadline, the farm's current yield and base will be used. If no ARC or PLC choice is made, there will be no 2014 payments and farms will default to PLC coverage through the 2018 crop year.
Federal lawmakers (36) wrote to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy in early February, urging the EPA to set new renewable fuel mandates for 2014 and 2015, according to the Des Moines Register. The lawmakers argued the delay is causing biodiesel producers to reduce their work force and close plants. A survey showed 80 percent of U.S. biodiesel producers had scaled back production last year, and about 60 percent stopped production altogether because the standards were not announced. The EPA is expected to rule on the 2014 and 2015 standards sometime this year.
Republicans, now the majority in the Senate, control both chambers of 114th Congress and are eager to show they can govern. The first bill they tackled was to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline; it passed the Senate 62-36 on Jan. 30 and the House 270-152 on Feb. 11. As promised, President Obama vetoed this legislation, according to Reuters, and since there isn’t a two-thirds margin in Congress to override it, the bill will likely not become law.