On Nov. 20, the U.S. Canola Association (USCA) and Northern Canola Growers Association representatives met with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials to reiterate concerns about the value of canola in the Market Facilitation Program (MFP). On a related note, several Democrat senators, led by Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, released a letter and report highlighting regional disparities in MFP payments. Likewise, on Nov. 1, House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue about concerns with the MFP. Meanwhile, the USDA released its second tranche of MFP payments to producers, representing 25 percent of all 2019 payments. The first tranche accounted for 50 percent and a third tranche for the balance may be released in early 2020.
Congress and the Trump Administration continue work toward a final U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement. House leaders are working with the Administration on the legislative text. But it remains uncertain if the USMCA will be voted on by the end of 2019. Negotiations also continue on a potential “phase one” agreement with China that could suspend tariffs and confirm China will increase purchases of U.S. agricultural products. Such an agreement would not require Congressional approval.
Prior to Thanksgiving, Congress passed another Continuing Resolution (CR) through Dec. 21. It will keep the government operating at previous fiscal year levels while Congress negotiates and passes fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills. The FY20 agriculture appropriations bill has already cleared the House and Senate and awaits final conference committee agreement to work out the differences in the two versions.
The USCA submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its supplemental notice regarding Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) for biodiesel. The USCA is pushing the EPA to straight-forwardly address SREs based on waivers actually granted rather than the partial approach proposed by the agency, which would create significant uncertainty for the biofuel market. The USCA and its biodiesel industry partners also continue to push Congress to enact a multi-year extension of the biodiesel tax credit that expired at the end of 2017. The USCA signed onto a coalition letter to Congressional leadership urging action on a tax extenders package by year-end.