The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited proposal May 29 to establish renewable fuel standards for 2014, 2015 and 2016, according to the Des Moines Register. For biomass-based diesel, the agency proposed volumes of 1.63 billion gallons in 2014, 1.7 billion gallons in 2015 and 1.8 billion gallons in 2016. While not as robust as the biodiesel industry had hoped, the new volumes are higher than in the previous proposal, which would have set the requirements at 1.28 billion gallons for 2014 and 2015. There will be a public comment period on the proposed rule, and the U.S. Canola Association (USCA) is planning to submit comments. The EPA intends to finalize the proposal by Nov. 30.
The EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the "Waters of the United States" rule on May 27, renaming it the "Clean Water Rule." Intended to protect the nation's public health and aquatic resources, the rule will clarify the scope of "waters of the United States" consistent with the Clean Water Act, Supreme Court precedent and science. Many farmers, ranchers and industry groups, however, oppose the new regulations as government overreach. The House passed a bill to block the rules and the Senate is considering a similar measure, according to Bloomberg Business. The EPA also released industry-specific fact sheets, including agriculture, that detail changes made compared to the initial rule released in April 2014.
Legislation to “fast track” trade cleared the Senate 62 to 37, according to CNN, advancing a bill that is one of President Obama’s top priorities. The White House is seeking to secure a broad trade deal with Pacific Rim nations, including canola trade partners Japan and Canada, and Trade Promotion Authority would limit Congress to an up or down vote on such agreements. Without it, proponents of the bill argue, Congress’s ability to amend trade deals could stall them indefinitely. The bill’s future in the House is uncertain.
Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN) expressed concern about the destruction of crop insurance during a May interview with Agri-Pulse, reported National Crop Insurance Services. Some crop insurance companies are considering leaving the business due to attacks on profit margins and premium support offered to farmers. According to Peterson, the worst case scenario would be entire states not receiving crop insurance. “Crop insurance is what keeps family agriculture and smaller farmers going," he said. "It’s so expensive to farm, the banker isn’t going to finance you if you don’t have a way to pay him back, which is what crop insurance does.”