The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a bill to reauthorize the U.S. Grain Standards Act through September 30, 2025. The bill, which passed unanimously, authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Federal Grain Inspection Service to establish marketing standards for certain grains and oilseeds. It also authorizes official weighing and inspection services. The covered crops include barley, canola, corn, flaxseed, oats, rye, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower seed, triticale, wheat, and mixed grain. The U.S. Canola Association (USCA) joined other stakeholders on a letter of support to the Senate Agriculture Committee prior to the mark-up.
On June 19, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied a petition that sought to invalidate the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) existing stocks authority, which it exercised in a June 3 guidance to growers allowing the use of existing inventories of dicamba. The decision was made because the agency did not have enough evidence to support its approval. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler provided clarity for farmers following the decision, stating that the “cancellation and existing stocks order is consistent with EPA’s standard practice following registration invalidation, and is designed to advance compliance, ensure regulatory certainty, and to prevent the misuse of existing stocks.”
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) called on Wheeler to immediately reject the flood of 52 small refinery exemption petitions for previous compliance years. NBB renewed its request that the EPA apply the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit’s ruling in Renewable Fuels Association v. EPA to all pending exemption petitions. Sixteen U.S. senators also wrote to Wheeler urging that he reject petitions from oil companies for RFS exemptions.
The USCA and members of the Coalition for Uniformity in Food Ingredient Standards expressed support for an amendment to the House Defense Authorization bill to establish a process for stakeholder input on food ingredient policies at the Department of Defense (DoD). The provision, which was included in the Senate version of the bill, stems from a 2017 decision by the DoD to reduce and restrict commonly used food ingredients in products sold to the military. The DoD’s directive did not include scientific justification and did not fully consider the immediate consequences for ingredient suppliers and farmers. The House amendment would ensure that ingredient-specific policies are developed with input from the agriculture supply chain and relevant civilian food and nutrition authorities without weakening the DoD’s purchasing preferences.
The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee held a mark-up on the Highway Reauthorization bill and considered several issues that impact agriculture. Prior to the mark-up, the USCA signed a letter supporting the expansion of the hours-of-service, 150 air-mile agricultural exemption in all states to year-round rather than just the planting and harvesting seasons. Currently, there are 15 states that do not define these seasons as year-round. The USCA joined an agricultural value chain group to express support for an amendment that would remove language in the House draft bill to create unnecessary additional oversight, review and requirements for current and future exemptions to the hours of service rule. Following Committee passage of the Highway Reauthorization bill, House Democrats released a larger infrastructure package that includes more than $1.5 trillion in funding for roads, bridges, transit, rail, schools, housing, broadband, drinking and wastewater systems, postal service, clean energy sector and health care facilities. House leadership plans to consider the infrastructure package on the House floor prior to the July 4th recess.
The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the Growing Climate Solutions Act, a bill introduced by Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) to establish a USDA program to certify third-party verifiers and technical service providers that help private landowners generate carbon credits through a variety of agriculture and forestry-related practices. The bill will be introduced in the House by Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Don Bacon (R-NE).
There’s still time! Farmers have until Aug. 28 to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The payments, which offset impacts from the pandemic, include specialty and non-specialty crops.