January 01, 2015

International Year of Soils

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has designated 2015 the International Year of Soils. The organization hopes to raise awareness of the need to protect productive soils around the planet. It has entrusted a Global Soil Partnership with this task. The partnership has five pillars of action.

 

The 5 pillars of action

The Global Soil Partnership will support the process leading to the adoption of sustainable development goals for soils.

It will contribute to environmental wellbeing through, for example, preventing soil erosion and degradation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting carbon sequestration and promoting sustainable use of agricultural inputs for soil health and ecosystems management.

It will equally contribute to human wellbeing and social equity through improved use and governance of soil resources, finding alternatives to soil degrading practices through participatory experiential processes, and being sensitive to issues of gender and rights of indigenous peoples.

The 
In order to achieve these objectives, the GSP should address five main pillars of action:

  • Promote sustainable management of soil resources for soil protection, conservation and sustainable productivity
  • Encourage investment, technical cooperation, policy, education awareness and extension in soil
  • Promote targeted soil research and development focusing on identified gaps and priorities and synergies with related productive, environmental and social development actions
  • Enhance the quantity and quality of soil data and information: data collection (generation), analysis, validation, reporting, monitoring and integration with other disciplines
  • Harmonization of methods, measurements and indicators for the sustainable management and protection of soil resources

December 20, 2014

RFS2 Set to Ramp up Biodiesel Usage

U.S. EPA has stalled the release of the annual usage mandates for bio fuels in the United States. These are due out each November, but neither the 2014 or 2015 figures have been released. EPA says it will put forth new numbers next spring. In the meantime, it might be important to consider just how using the default numbers would play out for the production of ethanol and biodiesel.



The United States congress set renewable fuels mandates a few years ago. It also gave U.S. EPA the power to adjust those mandates. EPA hasn’t done so for the 2014 calendar year, or for 2015. We’ll dispose of the political baggage and simply focus on the results of using the default statutes written into the law.


December 14, 2014

Ethanol Production Profits Dim as Gasoline Prices Plummet

The magnitude of the decline in crude oil and gasoline prices has taken nearly everyone by surprise. NYMEX nearby crude oil futures this week touched $60 per barrel, almost $50 less than peak prices last summer. This is a major economic event with potentially far-reaching impacts for biofuels markets. We examined some of these impacts in two recent farmdoc daily articles (November 12, 2014; December 4, 2014). Our conclusion was that current high ethanol prices relative to gasoline prices, as illustrated in Figure 1, might slow the growth in domestic ethanol consumption, but would not likely result in consumption that is less than the 10 percent blend wall.


December 04, 2014

Growmark Energy Analyst Harry Cooney on Pricing Fuel Needs

Each Tuesday during the Closing Market Report we talk with an energy analyst. This week Growmark's Harry Cooney turned his attention to OPEC, the dramatic drop in the price of a barrel of crude oil, and what to do about pricing 2015 fuel needs. You may listen to the conversation here. 


November 25, 2014

Corn Used for Ethanol Ramping Up

The price of ethanol has rallied over the last month, spurring greater production. If the pace were maintained for the marketing year total consumption could push 5.4 billion bushels says K-State Extension Ag Economist Dan O'Brien, with the caveat that this is not likely to happen. Still, as you'll hear, he concedes it is possible.


November 21, 2014

U.S. EPA Delays 2014 RFS Rule Making

Scott Irwin, University of Illinois Ag Economist specializing in the Renewable Fuels Standard, discusses the U.S. EPA announcement to delay an RFS decision until 2015.

U.S. EPA’s Janet McCabe - she’s an Acting Assistant Administrator - today signed a document and submitted it for publication in the Federal Register… that’s the document of record in Washington, D.C. The document says U.S. EPA will not finalize rule making for the 2014 RFS before the end of the calendar year. The agency was supposed to wrap that up at the beginning of the calendar year, but became mired in policy and technical issues related to changes proposed about a year ago. 

It now says the 2014 rules will be made before or in conjunction with the 2015 announcement. 

Logistically there are some log jams that will need to be dealt with related to RINs certificates from 2012. Those expire after two years. EPA says it will extend the expiration, but that the certificates will be in limbo until a new way to move them can be developed. 

So, again the big news in at the ag world today is related to ethanol. U.S. EPA has decided it will not make an RFS announcement for compliance and usage numbers until sometime in 2015. 


November 13, 2014

Transportation is the Opportunity & the Problem

Agricultural commodity prices in the United States have been moved more than usual over the past couple of years by transportation issues. University of Illinois Ag Economist Darrel Good says the railroad is pushing basis prices sharply lower and sharply higher. It may provide marketing opportunities.


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