USDA Secretary Addresses Ag Issues at #FPS19

carrie muehling

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue spent a full day at Farm Progress Show in just a few hours. After listening to farmers’ concerns during an Ag Policy Forum across the street, the secretary drove a tractor in the ride and drive, took a call from President Trump during a live show on stage with Max Armstrong, and then answered questions from a few dozen reporters gathered in the BASF Media Tent.

Listen to the press conference with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue here: FPS19 USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue Press Conference

2019 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

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Secretary Perdue at Illinois Ag Policy Forum

carrie muehling

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told those gathered at an ag policy forum during the 2019 Farm Progress Show that he expects President Trump to announce small refinery waiver mitigation efforts soon. Perdue declined to provide further details about the coming announcement.

Members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation including Rep. Rodney Davis, Rep. John Shimkus, Rep. Mike Bost and Rep. Darin LaHood hosted the forum, where they and Secretary Perdue answered questions from farmers and agribusiness leaders on trade and tariffs, biosecurity, renewable fuels and hemp production among other topics.

Listen to the entire Ag Policy Forum here: FPS19 Ag Policy Forum

2019 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

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#FPS19 Day Two Underway

carrie muehling

Day two of the 2019 Farm Progress Show is underway with plenty of sunshine and a full line up of events, including a visit from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Show Manager Matt Jungmann said late planting for many farmers this year means they are not yet in the field and as a result the crowds are turning out for the event.

“It appears that the optimism of the American farmer means that we’re going to have a great year in 2020 and we’re going to make plans, so we’re going to go to the Farm Progress Show, start the planning process, take step one to put 2019 behind us, and go to work,” said Jungmann, who is National Events Director for Farm Progress.

Jungmann said visitors to the show are enjoying perfect weather after rains came through during set up for the event. New exhibits this year include an area focused on hemp production and the demonstration of a mock pipeline strike with a tiling machine.

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Matt here: Interview with Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress

2019 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

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Bayer Commits Funding to 4-H and FFA

carrie muehling

At the 2019 Farm Progress Show, Bayer announced a $6 million gift over the next five years to support 4-H and FFA youth programs.

“It’s no secret that U.S. agriculture is facing a lot of challenges right now, but there is no better time to invest in the future than now,” said Lisa Safarian, Head of Crop Science, North America. “A landscape of completely new opportunities are developing right now in agriculture, and its youth is going to guide this landscape. Tomorrow’s farmers and leaders are going to be instrumental in advancements in digital technologies and data science that will unlock greater value and enable farmers to continue their efforts to sustainably produce food to feed the world.”

Safarian said these groups cultivate the desire and knowledge to advance agriculture through hands-on activities that strengthen STEM skills, engage with communities and develop strong leadership skills.

“Having this kind of a long-term partnership really does give us the chance at 4-H to plan, and to look ahead as we invest in the future of the agriculture and science workforce of our country to help build our economy,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, President and CEO of the National 4-H Council. “We know that our youth are going to play a critical role in the future of agriculture innovation, and 4-H is uniquely prepared to respond to these needs, not only because of our roots in agriculture, but because of our reach and the diversity of the young people we serve today.”

Echoing the thanks to Bayer for this investment in young people was Mark Poeschl, CEO of the National FFA Organization.

“We recognize that in order for us to grow the 8,600 FFA chapters around the country, we have to continue to invest in teachers – both recruitment of teachers as well as retention of those teachers that are already in the classroom. These funds help us do that,” said Poeschl. “We also believe we have to be the voice of agriculture. We have to teach our young people how to be advocates for agriculture. So advocacy and ag literacy – a second pillar of FFA’s strategic plan – will also be a critical part of the investment that we continue to make in our members around the country.”

Listen to the entire news conference here: Bayer Commits to 4-H and FFA News Conference

2019 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

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NCGA Tackles Waivers, Trade

carrie muehling

While celebrating announcements about E-15, National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) 1st Vice President Kevin Ross had the opportunity to share a pointed message with President Trump last spring regarding small refinery exemptions. But recent news out of Washington, D.C. about Renewable Fuels Standard waivers has Ross declaring there is still work to do.

“There’s time for them to do things and get them fixed, but there’s not a lot of time,” said Ross, who farms in southeastern Iowa. “We’ve got a lot of plants that have shuttered. We’ve got a lot of plants that are closing down at a time when we’re coming into harvest and guys need places to go with their products.”

Ross said the administration needs to understand how important the ethanol market is and how hurtful these exemptions are to the renewable fuels industry as a whole, noting that some plants have been operating on a negative margin for nearly a year.

He also acknowledged the difficult trade situation farmers face right now. While encouraged by recent announcements involving Japan, Ross said the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) needs to come before Congress. He also applauded the administration for taking on intellectual property issues within China, but said that country’s retaliation hurts farmers and hurts agriculture.

Listen to Cindy’s interview with Kevin here: Interview with Kevin Ross, NCGA

2019 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

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RFA: Docs Show EPA Ignored Recommendations

Carrie Muehling

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is sharing documents that show the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disregarded Trump Administration recommendations regarding small refinery exemptions.

Documents obtained by RFA show that the EPA ignored strong recommendations from within the Trump Administration to redistribute Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending obligations lost to small refinery exemptions in the proposed rule for 2020 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs).

According to the documents, which detail the White House Office of Management and Budget’s interagency review of the 2020 RVO proposal, some reviewers raised serious concerns about EPA’s failure to redistribute exempted biofuel blending volumes to non-exempt parties. Reviewers recommended that EPA include prospective redistribution of waived volumes in the 2020 proposal and also suggested a method for addressing a court order to restore 500 million gallons of blending obligations inappropriately waived in 2016. In the end, EPA ignored these recommendations.

“The revelations in these documents will only exacerbate the outrage and anger in farm country over EPA’s abuse of the small refinery waiver provision,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “The documents clearly show that EPA knowingly ignored strong recommendations from within the Administration to redistribute blending volumes that were exempted via small refinery waivers. EPA also disregarded recommendations to address a court order to restore 500 million gallons of lost blending obligations from 2016.”

According to comments from one of the interagency reviewers, “EPA … put a zero (0) in for projected volume of gasoline for exempt small refineries and projected volume of diesel for exempt small refineries, ensuring your projected totals are not met and all actual outcomes or resulting biofuel requirements are biased to one side, lower.…we recommend conducting an analysis based on expected conditions at small refineries and the historic issuance of exemptions. This would provide a more accurate estimate of volumes of gasoline and diesel for exempt small refineries.”

Reviewers suggested EPA include a projection of exempted gasoline and diesel of 12.5 billion gallons in the RVO formula, which would effectively ensure lost blending volumes are redistributed to non-exempt parties. The suggested projection of 2020 exempted volume is very close to the actual average exempted volume of 12.8 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel during the 2016-2018 period.

To ensure the statutory purpose of the RFS is honored and exempted volumes were reallocated, reviewers recommended that “…[RVO] percentages should be adjusted to incorporate projected gasoline and diesel exempted through small refinery waivers to ensure consistency of your analysis throughout the document.”

In response, EPA essentially blew off the reviewers’ recommendations. The Agency curtly responded that “The approach taken in this proposal is consistent with the approach first laid out in 2011 and followed since, and we have not proposed to revisit it. Whether to revisit this issue is a matter already under review at Agency leadership levels and we anticipate discussing it further while this action is under review.”

“The solution to the small refinery waiver problem was right in front of EPA’s face the whole time, yet they chose to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,” Cooper said. “The only way to begin calming the anxiety and aggravation in rural America is for EPA to immediately announce that it will resolve these issues in the upcoming 2020 RVO final rule. EPA must adopt the prospective reallocation approach recommended during the interagency review process in the 2020 rule, as well as include the 500-million-gallon remand. Anything short of that will be viewed by farmers and biofuel producers as another sellout to the oil industry and another kick in the teeth to the hardworking families in the Heartland.”

Reviewers also scolded EPA for proposing to ignore a D.C. Circuit Court order to restore 500 million gallons of blending requirements illegally waived by EPA in 2016, stating, “…you reject the ACE court remand because you conclude there is no ‘room’ to incorporate it, knowing that the stated RVO will not be achieved because of the issuance, and lack of incorporation of, small refinery waivers.”

EPA’s response? “This issue and our response to the ACE remand are the subject of ongoing discussions.”

EPA’s brazen disregard for recommendations and advice on SREs from other quarters of the Administration is not new, Cooper added. Only a short time ago, the Renewable Fuels Association and others pointed out how EPA ignored recommendations of the Department of Energy when it came to specific refinery exemptions.

Ethanol, Renewable Fuels Association, RFS

Rep. Davis Visits Farm Progress Show

carrie muehling

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) spent time Tuesday in his own 13th District, visiting the Farm Progress Show in Decatur.

Davis said the event is a great place to see farmers and agricultural companies alike, and recognized a level of displeasure in the agriculture industry when it comes to trade. He said a vote on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is critical and would help farmers to get what they’re looking for, and that’s a market for their products.

“It’s crucial for Illinois because 40 percent of our Illinois ag products are exported to Canada and Mexico, and it has given China leverage to walk away from the table,” said Davis. “It could be the lynchpin. It gives America leverage over countries like China who have been trading unfairly, and it gives us a starting point to be able to get a deal on the floor of the House. I think it opens the floodgates.”

Davis also realizes the ethanol industry is unhappy with recent refinery waivers and said those need to be limited to small refiners in the future.

Listen to Cindy’s interview with Rep. Davis here: Interview with Rep. Rodney Davis, R-IL 13th District

2019 Farm Progress Show photo album

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Farm Progress Show 2019

chuck zimmerman

2019 Farm Progress ShowIt’s that time again. Farm Progress Show 2019. Cindy and I are on our way to Decatur, IL for this year’s show.

We want to thank BASF for sponsoring the media tent once again this year. It’s looking like temperatures will be a little cooler but I’ll take air conditioning any day!

We’ll be on site this afternoon to get set up for an early start tomorrow when Carrie Muehling will be join us as we work with companies like GROWMARK, Syngenta, Can-Am and Bayer among others. It’s going to be a busy show. I’ve never had so many invitations to come to exhibits for their media event or to just meet and interview various representatives. I wish we could do them all!

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is scheduled to attend the show on Wednesday afternoon, which should be interesting considering the current dissatisfaction among farmers in the Midwest – crop forecasts, refinery waivers, trade wars…etc. Wonder what Secretary Sonny will have to say this week. We know there will be farmers there with plenty to say!

See you at the Show!

AgWired Energy, AgWired Precision, Farm Progress Show

US and Japan Shake on Trade Deal

cindy zimmerman

During the G-7 summit in France Sunday, President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shook hands on a deal “in principle” that involves agricultural products.

“(We) have excess corn in various parts of our country, with our farmers, because China did not do what they said they were going to do,” said President Trump. “And Prime Minister Abe, on behalf of Japan, they’re going to be buying all of that corn. And that’s a very big transaction. They’re going to be buying it from our farmers.”

Prime Minister Abe said there is a demand for some agricultural products right now in Japan because they are experiencing some insect pest issues. “And there is a need for us to buy certain amount of agricultural products. And this will be done by the Japanese private sector. That means that Japanese corporations will need to buy additional agricultural products.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says the deal “will be a major benefit for beef, pork, wheat, dairy products, wine, ethanol, and a variety of other products.”

Listen to remarks by Pres. Trump, PM Abe (translated), and USTR Lighthizer.

US-Japan trade deal announcement

AgWired Animal, AgWired Energy, AgWired Precision, Audio, corn, Exports, Trade

GROWMARK Foundation to Provide FFA Jackets

carrie muehling

After the unexpected passing of GROWMARK vice president and long-time employee Mike Builta in April 2019, the GROWMARK Foundation is helping his family to honor his memory by providing FFA jackets to FFA members in Illinois.

“In the weeks and the days after his passing, his wife approached us and asked if the GROWMARK Foundation could become a place to funnel memorial funds through, and also to come up with some ideas of appropriate ways to honor his memory,” said Karen Jones, GROWMARK Youth and Young Producer Specialist.

More than $12,000 was collected in Builta’s memory. Part of that money will go towards providing 25 Illinois FFA members with FFA jackets for the next four years, for a total of 100 jackets. Interested students will fill out an online application including two short answer questions about what the FFA jacket means to them, and the main goal they wish to accomplish as an FFA member.

The application is available at and is due September 30.

Builta was raised on a family farm near Bellflower, Illinois. He was an active FFA member and lifelong supporter of agricultural education. He held GROWMARK System management roles at Christian County Farmers Supply Company in Taylorville, Illinois and GRAINCO FS in Ottawa, Illinois, before becoming GROWMARK vice president of Energy and Logistics in 2018.

Listen to Carrie’s interview with Karen here: Interview with Karen Jones, GROWMARK

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