July 02, 2018

Biofuels Proposal Contradicts Congressional Intent

U.S. EPA’s biofuels proposal appears to give the agency authority Congress did not intend. The proposed rulemaking asserts the agency’s right to extend small refinery waivers without reallocating the congressionally mandated gallons. In this case that would be corn-based ethanol blended into the nation’s regular gasoline supply at the rate of no more than 15 billion gallons annually says agricultural economist Scott Irwin, “It seems like that could be challenged in court.”

It is easy to establish that this was the most important policy decision EPA had to make for this rulemaking thinks the University of Illinois professor, and it said “no way, no how are we going to listen to anybody”. He is unsure if the that decision can hold up in court.

EPA believes it has the right to grant small refinery waivers without reallocating the waived gallons. It has granted some 1.5 billion gallons worth of ethanol waivers. In this way, it is capable of creating rules that meet the legal requirement of the RFS, but then allow it not to be met via a loophole. Whether the loophole remains open is a political and legal question with big ramifications.

That is an interesting question says Irwin, “If the zero reallocation holds, then this will be a major defeat for the ag interest and (R) IA - Senator Charles Grassley. This is because we will have gone to a situation where the small refinery exemptions function effectively as a form of general waiver authority for the EPA to roll back the mandates.”

Clearly, Irwin goes on to say, Congress did not explicitly give that authority to the EPA. His view is that it will be challenged in court if necessary and thrown out.

June 27, 2018

Scott Irwin on the 2019 EPA Biofuels Proposal

University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Scott Irwin says if U.S. EPA's 2019 biofuels obligations proposal survives as introduced June 26, 2018, it will be a blow to the corn ethanol industry.

June 21, 2018

Farm Bill Goes to Conference

The U.S. House of Representatives & the U.S. Senate have passed farm bill legislation. Before its passage, I asked @ACESIllinois Jonathan Coppess how the vote might go, what the bill contains, and how it compares to the Senate’s version of the legislation. This interview will walk you through each bill, and what House and Senate Conference committee members must do to send legislation to President Trump's desk for his signature.

June 20, 2018

Nothing to do about Seedling Diseases in Soybean

Soybean seed treatments aren’t working at the moment and there’s nothing a farmer can do.

If you drive around much you’ll have noted some drown out areas in soybean fields, probably across the whole of the corn belt. Those are pretty easy to spot, but there are some areas that look like they’ve not been underwater - at least not for very long, if at all. They’re wilted back and showing signs of seedling diseases says University of Illinois Extension Plant Pathologist Nathan Kleczewski, "You must remember these soybeans have been in the ground for 30 or 40 days and seed treatments are going to only give us two to three weeks of protection.

Under perfect conditions your are going to see about three weeks of protection says the researcher, and we’re well past that point now. Kleczewski says while it is unusual at this point in the season, the Plant Clinic at the University of Illinois has been getting in samples of treated soybeans that are clearly suffering from seedling diseases, “f you think about the environment we had and the conditions we had immediately after planting. So, when we planted it was really warm and wet there for a while. So, you can imagine that initially this plant would have germinated from the seed and started to throw off roots. And then from here we are seeing from those initial roots, see how they are very white and stiff, this is because the outer cortex sloughed off. This is usually a sign of pythium infection and maybe there was also some rhizoctonia infection. So this canker you see here would be indicative of rhizoctonia.”

There is nothing to do at this point says Kleczewski. Spraying a fungicide on won’t do any good. If things dry out the plants may recover. Still there will be some stand loss, but not likely much yield impact.

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